How plastic particles end up in our bodies

How plastic particles end up in our bodies

Scientists at the Austrian Environment Agency and the University of Vienna analyzed stool samples of people from eight countries and found every one contained microplastics.

Our reliance on plastic could be seriously harming us on the inside. One can avoid plastic bottles, but even so, plastic wrapping and containers are ubiquitous for food, and plastic is everywhere around us.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that measure under 0.2 inches in length.

Fortunately, the research did not indicate that plastics were accumulating and remaining in the body.

Throughout the study, the participants recorded what they ate in the week prior to their stool sampling.

But it could also come from plastic consumed by sea life. "They've definitively established what so many of us suspected - we're ingesting these plastics".

"Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health", he added. The latest research suggests that microplastics are also entering the human body even more directly. Nine out of ten types of plastics searched for were found in all the samples. On average, the researchers found 20 microplastic particles of less than 5mm per 10g of sample. He notes that in animal and fish studies, microplastics have been shown to cause intestinal damage and liver stress.

The researchers identified nine different polymers of plastic, but the most common were PP (polypropylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which are commonly used in plastic bottles and in the plastic caps. A 2017 study found that Americans likely eat at least 660 particles of microplastic each year - and that's just from salt intake. Significant amounts of microplastic have been detected in tuna, lobster and shrimp. What's worrying, according to the researchers, is that the health effects of microplastics on people are unknown.

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Diaries kept by each participant in the week before the stool tests showed they were all exposed to plastic by consuming plastic-wrapped food or drinking from plastic bottles.

In a pilot study conducted by the Federal Environment Agency and the Medical University of Vienna, microplastics in the human stool was discovered for the first time - in all of the eight worldwide participants.

"In the worst case, all the plastic they found is from the lab", Wagner told The Associated Press.

Other plastic types included polyoxymethylene (car parts and food industry), polycarbonate (construction and electronics), nylon (rope, fishing nets and textiles) and polyurethane (ship varnish, construction and auto parts).

Microplastics are particles of plastic less than 5 millimeters and are used in various products.

Speaking about the findings Dr Luiza Mirpuri, the organisation's medical adviser, said: "It will be catastrophic, not now but in the third generation because each time we have diseases, new diseases from new contaminants". "Is it harmful to human health?"

Researchers at the Vienna University of Medicine and the Austrian Environment Agency, headed by Dr. Philip Svalbell, made the announcement at the global gastroenterology conference of the United European Gastroenterology (UEG Week) organized in the Austrian capital.

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