Dutch scientists have reportedly discovered microplastics in human blood for the first time, and have warned that the particles might even travel to organs.
In a study published in Environment International journal last week, blood samples of 22 healthy volunteers were examined, and microplastics, which are small pieces of mostly invisible plastic, were found in almost 80% of the samples, with half of the samples having traces of PET plastic and over a third having traces of polystyrene.
Microplastics have been found almost everywhere on Earth, whether in the deepest parts of oceans or the highest parts of mountains, in the food chain, soil, and even air. PET plastic is a common thermoplastic widely used in making plastic water bottles and textiles, while polystyrene is a type of thermoplastic used in food packaging and disposable containers.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam based Ecotoxicologist, Dick Vethaak, stated that this was the first time that researchers were able to detect as well as quantify microplastics in human blood, proving that humans have plastics in their bodies when they should not.
Vethaak also called for further research in order to investigate what impact the microplastics might be having on people’s health, such as where they can make their way to in the body, can they be removed from the body, will they remain and/or accumulate in certain organs, and whether they can pass the blood-brain barrier.
The study stated that microplastics might have entered the body via different ways, such as food, water, or air, as well as via products like lip gloss, toothpaste, or tattoo ink.
It further stated that it is scientifically plausible that these particles might travel to organs through the bloodstream.
Vethaak also added that there might also be other kinds of plastic particles in the blood that the study could not pick up, such as detecting particles having a diameter larger than the needle used in taking the sample.
The study was funded by Common Seas, a British not-for-profit organization aimed at curbing plastic waste, along with the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development.
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