New research published in Environment International has confirmed the presence of microplastics in the human blood. In a study involving 22 participants, 80% of the samples tested were found to have microplastics. This is the first study to prove that microplastics can reach the bloodstream. In previous studies, microplastics have been found in animals and human feces.
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The researchers say they found up to three different types of plastic in some blood samples. They also found particles as small as 0.0007mm in some cases. The findings now prove that microplastics can travel through the body and may lodge in organs. Further research is needed to determine plastic’s effects on the body. However, the researchers behind the study say plastic particles could damage body cells. Previous studies have shown that air pollution particles inhaled cause millions of early deaths annually. Researchers worry the same findings could apply to microplastics.
Related: Hermit crab study shows microplastic’s affect on marine life
Plastic pollution is a major problem in our modern world. Each year, tons of plastics are dumped into the environment. Previous studies have shown that microplastics now contaminate the entire world, including remote areas. A recent study found 10 times more microplastic pollution in the Atlantic than previously thought. Another study found high amounts of microplastics deposited on sea floors.
In 2020, one study established microplastics in produce sold at the market. This could be one of the sources of the microplastics found in human bodies. At this point, most food sources consumed by humans are likely contaminated by plastics. Another study conducted in 2021 found microplastics in cows’ bloodstreams.
In the latest study, researchers analyzed samples from 22 unknown blood donors. All donors were healthy adults living a normal lifestyle. Among the samples, 17 contained microplastic contamination. Half the samples contained PET plastic, commonly used in water bottles.
“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – it’s a breakthrough result,” said Professor Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “But we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc.”
The research was funded by Common Seas and the Dutch National Organization for Health Research and Development. Alongside 80 NGOs and some UK MPs, these organizations are calling for the UK government to further research microplastic’s impacts on humans.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Oregon State University