Plastic Flesh

Particles, like stars
too distant for our skies,
permeate the flesh –
as falling snow.
We stand
of the siege within,
while sweat
that great traitor
greases their path
and ushers in
the voiceless throng.
The world shrinks
as it expands,
borders blurred
by the smallest
Within this vessel,
we drift
through the debris
of progress,
the toll
of ease –
legacies traced
along the dusty
pathways of
our burdened veins.

This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that toxic chemicals from microplastics can be absorbed through skin.

There’s growing concern about tiny plastic particles, known as microplastics, that are everywhere in our environment, from the deepest oceans to the air we breathe. But one overlooked area is how these plastics might be affecting us through our skin, especially when these particles carry harmful chemical additives.

Recent research has broken new ground by using advanced skin models to study how chemicals from microplastics can enter the human body. This research revealed that certain toxic chemicals, specifically known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), could pass through the skin and into the bloodstream. Factors like the type of plastic and whether the skin is sweaty can affect how much of these chemicals get absorbed. This discovery is crucial because it shows that touching microplastics could be another way – aside from eating or breathing them in – that these pollutants get into our bodies, potentially impacting our health. This study is a first step towards understanding the unseen risks that microplastics may pose to our wellbeing.

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