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Scientists Found Tiny Particles of Microplastics in Blood for the First Time

These tiny particles can move freely throughout the body and become lodged in organs, causing serious health problems. But now that we know, scientists are working hard to understand the full scope of the effects on human health, both short- and long-term.

Shivam Dwivedi
Tiny Particles of Microplastics in Blood
Tiny Particles of Microplastics in Blood

Microplastics have been detected in human blood for the first time, with tiny particles found in nearly 80 percent of tested human participants, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental International. These tiny particles can move freely throughout the body and become lodged in organs, causing serious health problems. But now that we know, scientists are working hard to understand the full scope of the effects on human health, both short- and long-term.

Potential Health Risks:

It's an unsettling discovery, but we're all in this together as scientists investigate the potential health consequences. Microplastics are found all over the planet.

Microplastics harmed human cells in laboratory experiments, and it is well known that air pollution particles entering the body are responsible for millions of deaths each year. Significant amounts of plastic waste are dispersed throughout the global environment, with microplastics abundant from the highest mountain to the abyssal depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Food and water can contain tiny particles, and even the air we breathe can carry microplastics into our bodies- particles of the synthetic substance were found in both baby and adult faeces.

The researchers looked at blood samples from 22 anonymous, healthy, adult donors, 17 of whom had plastic particles in their bodies. PET plastic, which is commonly found in drinking bottles, was found in half of the samples tested. Polystyrene, which is used to package food and other materials, was found in another third of the participants' bodies.

Polyethylene, the primary material of plastic carrier bags, was found in one-quarter of the blood samples. "Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood — it's a breakthrough result," says Ecotoxicologist and Professor Kick Vethaak of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in a Guardian report.

"However, we need to expand the research and increase sample sizes, the number of polymers evaluated, and so on," he added. This discovery, according to Vethaak, is cause for concern. "The particles are present and are moving throughout the body." Previous research has found that microplastics are present in baby faeces at a 10-fold higher concentration than in adult faeces.

This could be linked to babies being fed with plastic bottles, which exposes them to millions of microplastic particles every day. "We also know that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure in general. That concerns me greatly" in the report, Vethaak adds.

The recent study examined particles as small as 0.0007 millimetres using existing techniques in novel ways, with some blood samples revealing more than two types of plastic. Of course, if plastic testing materials were used, the results could be inaccurate, which is why the researchers used syringe needles in conjunction with glass tubes to eliminate the possibility of contamination.

"The big question," Vethaak continued in the report, "is what this abundance of plastic will do to a human body." They may be transferred to specific and common sites or organs by crossing the blood-brain barrier. Microplastics, whether found in our brains or elsewhere, have the potential to cause serious diseases. We urgently need to fund additional research to find out," says Vethaak.

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