(Credit: DEREVYA/Shutterstock)Plastics are everywhere, from our phones to our cars to our utensils. Now researchers find they’re inside our bodies as well. Americans consume more than 70,000 microplastic particles every year, a new study says. That sounds like a lot, but that number is still likely an underestimate, the researchers say. The consequences to human health are largely unknown.“The results of our study support the concept that we are living in a ‘plastic environment’ and consume microplastics in essentially everything we eat, drink and breathe,” said Hailey Davies, a marine biologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, who led the new research.Munching MicroplasticsPrevious studies from other groups keyed Davies and colleagues into the amount of microplastics fish and other seafood accumulate. They wondered if humans might be similarly consuming bits of plastic throughout their daily lives.The researchers combed through studies to find out how many microplastic particles are in the food and drinks a typical American consumes. Then they combined these values with recommended dietary guidelines to estimate microplastic exposure. Because men, women and kids tend to eat different amounts of food, the scientists made separate estimates for men and women and boys and girls.They found humans consume 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles from food alone each year. When the team added in microplastic exposure from the air around us, those numbers jumped to 74,000 to 121,000 microplastic particles.Though shocking, the values are likely a large underestimate, Davies said. The estimates do not include red meat, poultry, dairy, grains and vegetables because data on microplastic contamination in these foods is not yet available.Plummet Plastic UseBottled water was another major source of microplastic consumption, the team reports Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Davies and colleagues suspected bottled water would contain more microplastics than tap water given the packaging. But the researchers were surprised to discover how big the difference is. Bottled water has 94 microplastic particles per liter, while tap water only has four. Drinking the recommended volume of water from bottled water alone jacks up microplastic ingestion by 90,000 particles per year.The researchers say much of the microplastic particles likely get flushed out of our bodies. But not all. Some of the smallest particles can get into the bloodstream as well as the lungs and guts. These particles can potentially accumulate in the body. What effects those plastic bits have on our bodies once they’re inside is currently unknown, however.The most obvious solution, of course, is for us to stop making so much plastic to wrap our goods in. “The main action that can be taken to reduce consumption of microplastics is to address the root of the problem, which is the production of vast amounts of plastic waste,” Davies said.But, with plastic production on a steady increase over the past fifty years, that doesn’t seem very likely.
Android 9 power improvementsGoogle is continuing its effort to improve battery life in its latest Android operating system and beyond. Past efforts have included Job Scheduler in Android 5.0, Doze and App Standby in Android 6.0, Doze improvements in Android 7.0 and background limits in Android 8.0. In Android 9, Google is expanding on these improvements with a focus on helping developers build cool apps, making those apps power-efficient and not having to both users with configuring app settings. “This means that the OS needs to be smarter and adapt to user preferences while improving the battery life of the device. To address these needs, we have introduced App Standby Buckets, Background Restrictions, and improved Battery Saver,” Madan Ankapura, product manager for Android, wrote in a post. Perfecto releases new DevOps professional bookPerfecto will be releasing the Continuous Testing for DevOps Professionals book next week at Jenkins World in San Francisco. This is Perfecto’s second book, and was created in collaboration with CloudBees, Tricentis, Testim.io, test.ai and various industry thought leaders. The book will provide a definitive guide to implementing success continuous testing initiatives throughout DevOps pipelines. Profits from the book will be donated to Code.org whose mission is to expand access to computer science in schools. In addition, the book will include fundamentals of continuous testing, continuous testing for web apps, continuous testing for mobile apps, and the future of continuous testing. HackerRank today announced a new machine learning solution designed to help companies in their software development hiring process. The HackerRank Tech Talent Matrix uses ML to provide companies the proper data on software developer candidates. It analyzes more than 150 million assessments and candidate data points in order to provide insights into technical recruiting efforts and increase chances of finding the right software developer for the job. “Companies lack basic visibility into their developer hiring process, which is now just as big a priority as revenue and customer retention for executives across every industry,” said Vivek Ravisankar, CEO & co-founder of HackerRank. “We power one assessment every eight seconds on our platform, and have built a deep, unparalleled data set on what makes for a great candidate experience. Pairing machine learning with our experience and data, we’re arming businesses with the actionable intelligence they need to make smarter technical hiring decisions and ultimately transform into tech companies.”The matrix will provide a candidate response score to measure an organization’s candidate outreach performance, and a assessment quality score to measure the quality of companies’ assessments. eBay open-sources head motion technology for iPhoneseBay announced HeadGaze, a reusable technology library for tracking head movement through iOS apps, is now available on GitHub. HeadGaze was developed as part of an internship project within the company and uses Apple ARKit and the iPhone X camera to track head motion. According to the company, this type of technology could be used to scroll through a recipe without using greasy fingers to touch the phone, following how-to-manuals while trying to fix something messy like a car engine, or if it is too cold to remove your gloves in the winter to use your phone. The team will also be looking into tracking eye movements and fusing the experiences together.