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Does a person really eat about five grams of plastic in a week, the weight of a credit card?

"In just one week, you eat as much plastic as your credit card!" This sensational statement was made a few years ago and immediately spread by many global and Ukrainian media. Today we will find out if it is true.

“In one week, an average person consumes approximately five grams of plastic, equating to the size of a credit card.” This statement was issued by the World Wildlife Fund a few years ago [1]. 

Ukrainian media outlets such as Rubrika, Korrespondent, The Village Ukraine, Unian, Ukrayinska Pravda, etc. along with international media, eagerly disseminated this “sensational” information to the public. The proclamation is attention-grabbing, and readership is guaranteed. 

But, is it really so? Probably not - unless you intentionally ingest plastic. 


A person consumes one credit card in a week - research

Credit card in a week: a modern person...

Credit card in a week: how much plastic we consume...

How much plastic can a person consume in a week

Plastic has integrated into our daily existence as a convenient, practical, and affordable material, significantly simplifying our lives. Regrettably, we discard it after using. Due to external influences, such actions lead to its breakdown into diminutive particles known as microplastics. 

These particles, typically measuring less than 5 mm, can infiltrate the human body through food, air, and beverages. The exact extent of their impact on health remains unknown.

Researchers from Wageningen University & Research conducted a more precise study [2] than the one on which the World Wildlife Fund’s claim about wild fauna consuming credit cards was founded. According to their data, the majority of individuals ingest approximately 0.0041 mg of microplastic particles per week. 

This amount is less than a grain of salt. Over a lifetime, the average person consumes about 13 mg of microplastics. Considering the amount of microplastics present in credit cards, a person would consume one 5-gram card every... 23,000 years. These figures may vary due to different diets, habits, and levels of pollution.

The global quantity of microplastics is escalating daily, and concurrently, the number of studies examining the impact of these particles on health is also on the rise. To promote a more serious and responsible approach to this issue, there’s a need for fewer “sensational” news stories with clickbait headlines, such as “we swallow as much plastic as is contained in a Lego cube in a month, and as much as in a Rubik’s cube in a year.”


 Prepared by Dmytro Filipchuk. References:


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Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
Dmytro Filipchuk
Dmytro Filipchuk
author Behind the news
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