According to a recent study scientists has for first time found microplastics in human blood and it may be transported to the organs via the bloodstream.
Microplastics have been identified in human blood for the first time by scientists raising concerns that the widespread particles are also making their way into organs.
The virtually undetectable plastic fragments have already been discovered almost everywhere else on Earth, from the deepest oceans to the highest peaks, as well as in the air, soil, and food chain.
Microplastics were discovered in nearly 80% of blood samples from 22 anonymous, healthy participants, according to a Dutch study published in the Environment International journal on Thursday.
PET plastic, which is commonly used to produce drink bottles, was found in half of the blood samples, while polystyrene, which is commonly used in disposable food containers and other products, was found in more than a third.
Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, stated, “This is the first time we have actually been able to detect and quantify” such microplastics in human blood.
“This is proof that we have plastics in our body—and we shouldn’t,” he told AFP, urging for more investigation into the health implications.
“Where is it going in your body? Can it be eliminated? Excreted? Or is it retained in certain organs, accumulating maybe, or is it even able to pass the blood-brain barrier?”
According to the study, microplastics might have entered the body by a variety of means, including air, water, and food, as well as toothpastes, lip glosses, and tattoo ink.
The study concluded, “It is scientifically plausible that plastic particles may be transported to organs via the bloodstream.”
Vethaak also speculated that there could be other types of microplastics in blood that his study missed, such as particles larger than the diameter of the needle used to draw the sample.
The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, as well as Common Seas, a UK-based organisation dedicated to reducing plastic pollution, sponsored the research.
The study “unequivocally” proved the presence of microplastics in blood, according to Alice Horton, an anthropogenic contaminants scientist at the National Oceanography Center in the United Kingdom.
“This study contributes to the evidence that plastic particles have not just pervaded throughout the environment, but are pervading our bodies too,” she told the Science Media Center.
Despite the limited sample size and absence of data on participants’ exposure levels, Fay Couceiro, a reader in biogeochemistry and environmental pollution at the University of Portsmouth, believes the study is “robust and will stand up to scrutiny.”
She also asked for more research to be done.
“After all blood links all the organs of our body and if plastic is there, it could be anywhere in us.”
More information: Heather A. Leslie et al, Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood, Environment International (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107199
Journal information: Environment International