Thursday, 25 April, 2019


Plastic particles - or microplastics - have been found in human feces

Significant amounts of plastic have been detected in tuna during previous studies. File pic Image Significant amounts of plastic have been detected in tuna during previous studies. File pic
Patty Aguilar | 25 October, 2018, 17:44

But researchers pointed to past studies that found microplastics not only in the digestive systems of animals, but in their blood, lymph and liver.

In the study, which is the first of its kind, each person ate their regular diet and kept a food diary in the week leading up to their stool sampling.

The particles discovered in the samples were between 50 and 500 micrometres wide - and the most common types of plastic involved were polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

In the small study of participants from Europe, Russia and Japan, all eight were found to have microplastic particles in their stool samples. "This", she added, "is of particular concern about what it means, especially for patients with gastrointestinal disorders".

There isn't any evidence so far of whether ingesting microplastics is unsafe to humans, let alone the specific effects, but the researchers believe that gastrointestinal plastic might have a clinical impact. They come from a variety of sources, from larger plastics that have already broken down to microbeads that are commonly placed in health and beauty products such as toothpaste and facial cleansers.

Schwabi's team recruited eight subjects for the pilot study and found an average of 20 microplastic particles per 10g of excrement, reports The Times. Another seven kinds of plastic, ranging from the types used in utensils and shopping bags to those used in automotive parts and electronics, showed up at much lower frequencies across some of the eight people's poop.

Although it is the first hard evidence that plastic enters the body, previous research has suggested it can be ingested through food, drink, cosmetics and even by breathing in city air.

There's been evidence microplastics have been infiltrating our bodies for some years. "They've definitively established what so many of us suspected - we're ingesting these plastics".

Although very little is known about the ill effects of microplastics, there are huge concerns about that "plastics may hit our gastrointestinal health and reach other organs".

The new paper, which was presented Monday at a gastroenterology conference in Vienna, could provide support for marine biologists who have long warned of the dangers posed by microplastics in our oceans.

Microplastics are bits of plastic that measure under 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) in length - about the size of a sesame seed or smaller. Unlike other substances we eat, microplastics are too large to be absorbed by cells in the gut and simply pass through. None of the participants were vegetarians and six of them consumed sea fish. But a study in lab mice found that microplastics accumulated in the intestines, kidneys, and liver.

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

This plastic can then end up in the ocean and enter our food chain and, in the end, our feces.

Humanity has produced some nine billion tons of plastic so far - most of which has ended up as trash.

Thanks to their many practical uses, plastics are widely used in everyday life, so people are constantly exposed to them - the environment itself. Which, if one thinks about it, only makes sense since we're eating and drinking them.

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