Microplastics have been identified in human blood for the first time, raising concerns that the omnipresent particles are also making their way into organs. The virtually undetectable plastic fragments have already been discovered almost everywhere else on Earth, from the deepest oceans to the highest peaks, as well as in the air, soil, and food chain.
Microplastics were discovered in nearly 80% of blood samples from 22 anonymous, healthy participants, according to a Dutch study published in the Environment International journal on Thursday.
PET plastic, which is commonly used to produce drink bottles, was found in half of the blood samples, while polystyrene, which is commonly used in disposable food containers and other products, was found in more than a third.
Such microplastics in human blood, said drink bottles, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, “This is the first time we have actually been able to detect and quantify.”
He told AFP, “This is proof that we have plastics in our body — and we shouldn’t,” calling for further research to investigate how it could be impacting health.
He addedm, “Where is it going in your body? Can it be eliminated? Excreted? Or is it retained in certain organs, accumulating maybe, or is it even able to pass the blood-brain barrier?”
According to the study, microplastics might have entered the body by a variety of means, including air, water, and food, as well as toothpastes, lip glosses, and tattoo ink.
The study added, “It is scientifically plausible that plastic particles may be transported to organs via the bloodstream.”
Vethaak also speculated that there could be other types of microplastics in blood that his study missed, such as particles larger than the diameter of the needle used to draw the sample.
The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, as well as Common Seas, a UK-based organisation dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution, supported the research. The study “unequivocally” demonstrated the presence of microplastics in blood, according to Alice Horton, an anthropogenic pollutants scientist at the National Oceanography Centre in the United Kingdom.
She told the Science Media Centre, “This study contributes to the evidence that plastic particles have not just pervaded throughout the environment, but are pervading our bodies too.”
She also called for further research, “After all blood links all the organs of our body and if plastic is there, it could be anywhere in us.”
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