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Microplastics are tiny plastic particles and debris that are 5 mm or smaller in diameter in the environment. Pollution of oceans and rivers has long been a problem, but it has various effects anywhere on the planet. Humans are no exception.
Microplastics were eventually found in human blood. It is said to be detected in the blood of 80% of those tested.
This fact suggests that small particles of plastic can pass through the bloodstream and even accumulate in organs such as internal organs.
Its health effects have not been elucidated, but previous studies have shown it can damage human cells.
[图片]Microplastics are ubiquitous on Earth
Currently, a lot of plastic is thrown away. The tiny microplastics produced from it contaminate anywhere on Earth, from Mount Everest to the world’s deepest oceans.
We bring these particles into our bodies through food, water and breathing, and they are actually detected in human waste. Also from the baby stool.
・I want to read together → with Japan…Microplastics are detected in the feces of people from 8 countries.
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80% of people tested had microplastics in their blood
In a study conducted at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, microplastics were found in 17 of 22 healthy adults whose blood was examined. Particles are very small, from 0.0007 mm to 0.514 mm.
Half of that is “PET” for PET bottles. A third detected “polystyrene” used in containers such as food, and a quarter detected “polyethylene” used as a raw material for plastic shopping bags.
What effect does it have on the human body?
Professor Dick Betke, who led the research, was concerned that microplastics could reach organs through the bloodstream and cause disease.
Past research has also found that babies grown up in plastic bottles have 10 times the amount of microplastics in their poop than adults. These children are believed to eat millions of plastic pellets every day.
“Infants and young children in general are very concerned because they are susceptible to chemicals and particles,” Professor Betterk said.
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Contact with plastic products
The results of the study were published in Environment International (24 March 2022), but some blood samples tested were found to contain some plastic.
Inspections were performed using steel injection needles and glass tubes to prevent contamination, and empty samples (those that did not include detection targets) had also been identified as microplastics during the pre-inspection stage.
The amount and type of microplastics contained in blood samples varied.
Professor Betek speculates that it has to do with whether or not the plastic was in contact before the test.
For example, you can drink and eat from plastic cups and containers, eat directly from plastic bags, and wear polyethylene masks and polyester clothing.
Further research is needed to investigate its relationship to health
“The big question is what’s going on in the human body,” Professor Betke said.
Do plastic particles stay in the body? Can it be sent to specific internal organs through the blood-brain barrier, etc.? Is it enough to cause a health hazard?
Further research is needed to find out, he said.
The EU is already funding research to understand the effects on fetuses, babies and the immune system, with recent research showing that microplastics attach to the outer membranes of red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen.
It was also found in the placenta of pregnant women, and it was confirmed in experiments in rats that it was passed from the lungs to the heart and brain of the fetus.
Professor Betterk was also involved in a recent review study stating that the carcinogenicity of microplastics and nanoplastics requires detailed study. The problem is that it’s getting more and more urgent.
References: First discovery of plastic particles in human blood / First discovery of microplastics in human blood | Plastics | The Guardian // Written by hiroching / Edited by parumo
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