Microplastics were first found in human blood
Dutch scientists found “quantifiable” microplastics in the blood of 17 of the 22 volunteers participating in the trial, or 77%. Low, moderate levels were 1.6 micrograms (1.6 parts per million grams) of microplastics per milliliter of blood.
The presence of microplastics, debris from everyday objects, in the blood was a groundbreaking finding.
The most common plastic discovered was PET, which is used to make beverage bottles. PET microplastics were found in 50% of the volunteers, according to the results published in the journal Environment International.
Meanwhile, Polystyrene, which is widely used in food packaging, was found at 36% and polyethylene, used in packaging films and bags, at 23%.
The microplastics may have been inhaled or ingested before being absorbed into the bloodstream, say researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University Medical Center Amsterdam.
They describe these pieces of plastic as “a common pollutant in the environment and food chains”, but no previous studies have been able to detect microplastics in the blood:The concentrations of plastic particles are reported here through the sum of all potential exposure routes: sources in the habitat entering the air, water and food, but possibly also care products. personal care, dental polymers, macromolecular implants, polymeric drug delivery nanoparticles and tattoo ink residues. Plastic particles not only spread in the environment but also our bodies“.
Microplastics are already present in human blood (Image: Greenpeace)
According to the independent scientists, this finding is important because the researchers spent a lot of time ruling out the possibility of contamination of the blood samples.
Dr Alice Horton, a ‘human pollutant’ researcher at the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre, said: “This is an interesting finding because particles of this size have been shown to cause inflammation and cell damage under laboratory conditions. This research contributes to the evidence that plastic particles are not only pervasive in the environment but also throughout our bodies. The long-term consequences of this are still unknown“.
Dr Fay Couceiro, an environmental pollution expert at the University of Portsmouth, said it was not possible to extrapolate the findings of one small study to the entire population, but added:The ability to detect the presence of microplastics (in the blood) was crucial for us to recognize the urgency of the need for further research in this area. Blood binds all the organs in our body and if the plastic is there, it could be anywhere in us.“.
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