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Microplastics found in human blood, researchers concerned over its effects

Researchers have detected microplastic in human blood for the first time, warning that the ubiquitous can be making their way into our organs.

The Dutch study was published in the Environment International journal on Thursday (24 March), where researchers examined blood samples from 22 anonymous, healthy volunteers and found microplastics in nearly 80% of them.

These tiny pieces of mostly invisible plastic have already been found almost everywhere on Earth, from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains as well as in the air, soil and food chain.

Half of the blood samples showed traces of PET plastic, which are widely used to make drink bottles, and more than a third had polystyrene, used for disposable food containers and many other products.

“This is the first time we have actually been able to detect and quantify such microplastics in human blood,” said Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

“This is proof that we have plastics in our body – and we shouldn’t,” he added.

Researchers are concerned if microplastics can cause harm to the human cells. “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?” Vethaak said.

The study also found that microplastics could enter our bodies through many different routes, including air, water, food or even in products particular toothpastes, lip glosses and tattoo ink.

“It is scientifically plausible that plastic particles may be transported to organs via the bloodstream,” the study said.

Vethaak said there could be other kinds of microplastics in the blood that his study did not pick up. He explained that the study could not detect particles larger than the diameter of the needle used to take the sample.

While we do not know the effects of having these particles in our body, one thing for sure is that we should definitely start reducing the use of plastics to help the environment.


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