For the first time, microplastics, tiny plastic particles that are a major source of pollution, have been detected in human blood. A group of researchers from the Netherlands discovered it in nearly 80% of the samples they tested.
The finding is significant because it demonstrates that microplastic can travel throughout the body and lodge in organs. Though scientists are unsure of the long-term effects of these particles on health, they are concerned because pollution levels are already rising around the world.
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic with a diameter of fewer than 0.2 inches (5mm). According to the study, researchers examined blood samples from 22 anonymous donors and discovered microplastic in 17 of them.
Moreover, PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), a type of plastic used in beverage bottles, was found in half of the samples. According to the study, polystyrene, which is widely used in food packaging, was found in 36% of samples, while polyethene, which is used in packaging films and bags, was found in 23%.
The levels are low – 1.6 micrograms (1.6 millionths of a gramme) per millilitre of blood – however, they are sufficient to cause concern.
“It is certainly reasonable to be concerned. The particles are there and are transported throughout the body,” Prof. Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit and the study’s lead author, says.
According to the study, microplastics could have entered the body through a variety of routes, including air, water, and food, as well as toothpaste, lip glosses, and tattoo ink.
In addition, he said the study yielded a “breakthrough result,” but that the sample size and number of polymers studied would need to be increased.
Plastic particles can enter the human body through the air, as well as food and drink, according to the researchers.
According to Professor Vethaak, such particles can cause long-term inflammation. “Good ventilation of the house is important because microplastic concentrations appear to be higher indoors than outdoors. I also cover my food and drinks to reduce the deposition of plastic particles,” the researcher added.
Plastic is one of the world’s most polluting materials. Massive amounts of plastic waste are dumped into the oceans from mountains. Microplastics were discovered in fish and other seafood samples from the Sal Estuary in Goa in January of last year.
Microplastics were found in the estuary’s water, sediment, and local animal and plant life, according to a study led by senior scientist Dr Mahua Saha.
Are Microplastic Harmful to Humans?
Microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at levels that are known to be consumed by people through their food. Cell death and allergic reactions were among the side effects, and the study is the first to show that this occurs at levels that are relevant to human exposure.
What are Microplastics?- NOAA’s National Ocean Service
The most common type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes is plastic. Plastic debris comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but “microplastics” are those that are less than five millimetres in length (roughly the size of a sesame seed).
Microplastics can be found in a variety of places, including larger plastic debris that breaks down into smaller and smaller fragments. Microbeads, a type of microplastic, are extremely small pieces of manufactured polyethene plastic used as exfoliants in health and beauty products such as cleansers and toothpaste. These microscopic particles easily bypass water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and Great Lakes, posing a risk to aquatic life.
Plastic is all over the place. A large portion of it ends up in the sea. The majority of plastics in the ocean disintegrate into extremely small particles. “Microplastics” are small plastic pieces. Other plastics are made to be small on purpose. Microbeads are tiny plastic beads that are found in a variety of health and beauty products.
They make their way into the ocean, unscathed, through waterways. Microplastics can be mistaken for food by aquatic life and birds.
Microbeads were banned in the United States in 2015. Microplastics, on the other hand, remain a major issue. Individuals can help keep plastic out of the ocean by taking the following steps. Remind yourself to reduce, reuse, and recycle.