Microplastics Found in Human Gut

Global plastic production has grown to more than 400 million tonnes a year and an estimated two to five per cent of it winds up in the ocean

Global plastic production has grown to more than 400 million tonnes a year and an estimated two to five per cent of it winds up in the ocean

Microplastics are extremely tiny plastics of size 5mm to 1mm (size of a grain) which do not get disintegrated. The latest research suggests that microplastics are also entering the human body even more directly.

"We know from the scientific literature that anything smaller than 150 microns, and especially anything smaller than 50 microns, can migrate through the gut wall and go into the blood cells and organs", says ecologist Chelsea Rochman of the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study.

According to the latest study, microplastics with a diameter of between 0.05 and 0.5 millimeters were found in the feces of eight people aged between 33 and 65 from eight countries - Austria, Britain, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Russian Federation.

In the pilot study one participant was selected as a representative of each of the eight countries - keeping a food diary in the week prior to providing the sample. PP (polypropylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was most frequently found in the samples.

Risky microplastics - usually found in the soil, oceans, tap and bottled water - have now soiled our poop too.

"We were unable to establish a reliable connection between nutritional behaviour and exposure to microplastics", said lead author Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna.

In the United States, the banning of common use of plastic is slowly gaining popularity and favor.

One magazine reported that these microplastics found in humans for the first time may be leading to health and fertility problems. The results are presented today at the International UEG Gastroenterology Congress in Vienna and form the basis for further investigations on a larger scale. All participants were exposed to plastics by consuming foods that had been wrapped in plastic as well as beverages in plastic bottles.

Monday's study may be the first to show the presence of plastics in the human gut, and it comes a few months after the World Health Organization announced it would investigate the potential effects of plastic on human health.

"We believe that plastics are ingested from plastic water bottles, that microfibers stream out of clothes washers and the fish we eat contain them", she said.

Every stool sample tested positive for some microplastic.

An estimated 5 percent of plastic waste ends up in the sea, which is then consumed by sea animals. The participants each kept a food diary as well.

Up to nine different plastics were found, out of 10 varieties tested for.

It confirms fears raised when Sky launched its Ocean Rescue campaign almost two years ago, which raised the possibility that microplastics eaten by seafood and fish would end up in the food chain.

So is all that plastic making us sick?

Microplastics have been discovered in every human stool sample collected from 8 countries across the globe.

Dr Stephanie Wright, a King's College London research fellow, said more work was needed to show whether it built up inside the body or just passed through.Alistair Boxall, environmental science professor at the University of York, said: 'It is really hard to conclude whether there is a risk to health or not'.

It's not the first time that concerns have been raised about the impact plastic could be having on our bodies. Now, they've even been found in our poop.

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