A group of researchers from the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have found microplastics in human blood samples for the first time. The discovery implies a new phase in the understanding of plastic pollution, showing that it is more dangerous than previously thought.
The scientists who published the paper, which appeared in the latest issue of the journal Environment International, analyzed blood samples from 22 adult patients who had applied to be blood donors. In all, microplastics were found in 17 of the volunteers.
bottles and packagingAccording to the researchers, fragments of water bottles and food packages were found in the volunteers’ blood. Credit: DidiPho/Shutterstock
Half of the samples contained traces of plastics that are commonly used in disposable bottles. Meanwhile, a third had fragments of the most common type of plastic in food packaging, something that had even been found in newborn babies.
“Our study is the first indication that we have microplastic particles in our blood – it’s a groundbreaking result,” said Dick Vethaak, ecotoxicologist and co-author of the study. “But we have to extend the research and increase the size of the samples, the number of polymers evaluated”, he added.
Vethaak’s team’s findings demonstrate that the prevalence of microplastics in the world has already reached increasingly dangerous levels. These risks range from the presence of these residues in vulnerable ecosystems such as coral reefs, through water, to the food we consume, and now in human blood.
But what does that mean?
For scientists, the presence of microplastics in human blood can be a source of damage to cells, and can even stop the production of hormones. But the truth is that the real impact of plastic on the human body is still unknown and needs to be investigated.
“The big question is what is happening in our bodies?” Vethaak told The Guardian. “Are the particles retained in the body? Are they transported to certain organs, like passing through the blood-brain barrier?” he asked.
Via: Science Alert
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