Children Exposed to Toxic Microplastics, Experts Warn in New Research by the Plastic Soup Foundation
AMSTERDAM, Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- CHILDREN are being exposed to potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals and microplastics present in equestrian arenas, new research will warn today.
The report by Dutch investigative journalist Laura Hoogenraad will be presented on the debut episode of the new Plastic Health Channel. This Channel is organised and produced by the Amsterdam-based Plastic Soup Foundation, with a view to taking an in-depth look into research and studies on the impact of plastic on human health.
Speaking on the debut episode, experts call for urgent action to assess the health implications of microplastics entering the body.
Microplastics in horse-riding arenas
Synthetic fibres from carpet waste used in equestrian arenas can shed tiny microplastics which could be breathed in by humans. Inhalation of these synthetic fibres might cause respiratory problems.
The research warns of the possible health risks for children and adults who are being exposed to the chemicals found in these microplastics on a daily basis.
More than 59 hazardous substances have been found in European carpets, including phthalates, lead, fluorine compounds and metals.
"There are many ways that these chemicals can be harmful," says Professor Majorie van Duursen, Head of Environment and Health at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. "Some of them can cause hormone disruption, others neurodevelopmental problems. Some are carcinogens or suspected carcinogens. Some can affect your immune system. We know especially young children are very susceptible and very vulnerable to these effects."
On average a single equestrian arena contains 2,400 kg of synthetic fibres, which can disperse tiny plastics into the environment which are then potentially inhaled by users.
Investigative journalist Laura Hoogenraad said: "The biggest problem here is that there is not enough research in this field, we do not know the true effects or dangers of using these fibres in equestrian grounds – but they are widely used anyway."
Artificial playgrounds also a risk
Artificial sports pitches and playgrounds have too been identified as a risk to children when they are exposed to harmful chemicals via crumb rubber particles.
"If you look at the situation in Europe you'd find that there is a much tougher standard for these chemicals for toys for children and in consumer goods, but in crumb rubber in sports fields and on playing fields, the standard is much looser," says professor Andrew Watterson, of the University of Stirling in Scotland.