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科学美国人60秒: 人类体内有很多微塑料

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人类体内有很多微塑料

Plastic is lightweight, malleable, durable. But it has also become so widespread that it’s ending up in a lot of unwanted places—including our own bodies. That’s according to a new study, which found that humans are consuming a shocking amount of so-called “microplastics.”

塑料重量轻,可塑性强,经久耐用。但它也变得如此普遍,最终在许多不想要的地方结束——包括我们自己的身体。这是根据一项新的研究得出的结论,该研究发现人类正在消耗惊人数量的所谓“微塑料”。

“Microplastics, the kind of current working definition, is plastic less than five millimeters. So people commonly equate that to something like a grain of rice or a sesame seed and down in terms of size class. I will say that most of the microplastics that people are interacting with are quite a bit smaller than the sesame seed size, which I think always kinds of shocks people when we start talking about the numbers because they kind of can’t see a lot of these things, at least with the naked eye.”

“微塑料,目前的工作定义,是小于5毫米的塑料。所以人们通常把它等同于一粒米或一粒芝麻之类的东西在大小等级上是向下的。我会说,大多数人们相互作用的塑料微粒不少小于芝麻大小,我认为总是种冲击人们当我们开始谈论这些数字,因为他们不能看到很多这些东西,至少用肉眼。”

Kieran Cox, a PhD candidate in marine biology at the University of Victoria in Canada, and one of the authors of the study, which is in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Microplastics come from numerous sources. They can be pieces shed from larger plastics or they may have been designed small to begin with.

Kieran Cox是加拿大维多利亚大学海洋生物学博士研究生,也是发表在《环境科学与技术》杂志上的这项研究的作者之一。微塑料有很多来源。它们可以是从较大的塑料上脱落下来的碎片,也可以一开始就设计得很小。

For their study, Cox and his team pulled together past scientific literature that calculated the number of microplastics in things we commonly consume, such as in tap and bottled water, sugars, seafood—even in the air that we breathe. This analysis helped them figure out the baseline amount of microplastics that people are consuming every year. They couldn’t include common foods like beef, poultry, vegetables, and dairy in their analysis, because data on them doesn’t exist yet. In fact, their study could account for only 15 percent of people’s caloric intake.

在他们的研究中,Cox和他的团队收集了过去的科学文献,这些文献计算了我们通常消费的东西中微塑料的数量,比如自来水、瓶装水、糖、海鲜,甚至我们呼吸的空气中。这项分析帮助他们计算出人们每年消费塑料微粒的基准量。他们无法在分析中包括牛肉、家禽、蔬菜和乳制品等常见食品,因为目前还没有关于这些食品的数据。事实上,他们的研究只占人们热量摄入的15%。

Even missing the majority of what people swallow, the research revealed that—at the very least—humans appear to consume somewhere between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles every year. That number goes up for people drinking bottled water rather than tap water. Now, is all this plastic ingestion safe? We simply don’t know.

即使没有考虑到人们摄入的大部分物质,研究显示,至少人类每年消耗的塑料微粒在7.4万到12.1万个之间。饮用瓶装水而不是自来水的人数还在上升。那么,这些塑料摄入安全吗?我们只是不知道。

“This is kind of the first estimate of dose, you could say, right? So if you're thinking in terms of toxicology, and ecotoxicology, dose is a very important factor to think about, and so this kind of presents the first estimate, but it is very much an underestimate because of what we don't know.”

“你可以说,这是对剂量的初步估计,对吧?所以如果你从毒理学和生态毒理学的角度考虑,剂量是一个非常重要的因素,所以这是第一个估计,但由于我们所不知道的,它被大大低估了。”

Plastic is lightweight, malleable, durable. But it has also become so widespread that it’s ending up in a lot of unwanted places—including our own bodies. That’s according to a new study, which found that humans are consuming a shocking amount of so-called “microplastics.”

“Microplastics, the kind of current working definition, is plastic less than five millimeters. So people commonly equate that to something like a grain of rice or a sesame seed and down in terms of size class. I will say that most of the microplastics that people are interacting with are quite a bit smaller than the sesame seed size, which I think always kinds of shocks people when we start talking about the numbers because they kind of can’t see a lot of these things, at least with the naked eye.”

Kieran Cox, a PhD candidate in marine biology at the University of Victoria in Canada, and one of the authors of the study, which is in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Microplastics come from numerous sources. They can be pieces shed from larger plastics or they may have been designed small to begin with.

For their study, Cox and his team pulled together past scientific literature that calculated the number of microplastics in things we commonly consume, such as in tap and bottled water, sugars, seafood—even in the air that we breathe. This analysis helped them figure out the baseline amount of microplastics that people are consuming every year. They couldn’t include common foods like beef, poultry, vegetables, and dairy in their analysis, because data on them doesn’t exist yet. In fact, their study could account for only 15 percent of people’s caloric intake.

Even missing the majority of what people swallow, the research revealed that—at the very least—humans appear to consume somewhere between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles every year. That number goes up for people drinking bottled water rather than tap water. Now, is all this plastic ingestion safe? We simply don’t know.

“This is kind of the first estimate of dose, you could say, right? So if you're thinking in terms of toxicology, and ecotoxicology, dose is a very important factor to think about, and so this kind of presents the first estimate, but it is very much an underestimate because of what we don't know.”


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