Common fruits and vegetables like carrots, lettuces and apples are contaminated with tiny particles of plastic and should be a cause for “considerable concern” among public health experts, scientists say.
Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy discovered apples are among the most contaminated fruits, while carrots are the most affected vegetables. The team studied plastic contamination in carrots, lettuces, broccoli, potatoes, apples, and pears. They concluded microplastics were “abundant” in the fresh food.
Fruits were more highly contaminated than vegetables, likely because fruit trees are older with deeper, more established root systems, they said.
Although the scientists found fewer plastic particles in fruits and vegetables studied than in the water from a plastic bottle, they still described their findings as cause for “considerable concern”.
“Based on the results obtained it is urgent important to perform toxicological and epidemiological studies to investigate for the possible eﬀects of microplastics on human health,” the study – published this week in the journal Environmental Research – warns.
Carrots could be particularly susceptible to microplastic pollution.
The study was a joint project between the Leiden University in the Netherlands and the Yanthai Institute of Coastal Zone Research in China. It is to be published in the journal Nature Sustainability.