Plastic now in all our bodies

Microplastics Are Everywhere — and That Likely Includes Your Poop

Plastic pollution breaks down into microplastics. Credit Shutterstock

In every sample of human faeces investigated, scientists found evidence of microscopic plastic particles swallowed in food.

The stools were tested at the Environment Agency Austria for 10 types of plastics following a newly developed analytical procedure.

"I believe that trying to reduce plastic usage and plastic-packed food might be beneficial for nature and for us", Schwabl said. The study by researchers in Austria examined eight participants (from the UK, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Japan and Russia).

The microplastics included polypropylene (PP), polyethylene-terephthalate (PET) and others, a research presented at the 26th UEG Week in Vienna revealed. Microplastics have been found in tap water, bottled water, fish and mussel tissue and even in beer.

"This is the first study of its kind, so we did a pilot trial to see if there are any microplastics detectable at all", said Philipp Schwabl, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna and lead author of the study.

Even if microplastics are found in stool, this doesn't mean they have entered the human body, he said.

"We need urgent action from governments to massively reduce plastic use and ensure any we do use, which must be essential, is captured and properly recycled".

Almost eight billion metric tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans each year.

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By the World Economic Forum's estimation, the world's oceans will be filled with more plastic than fish by weight by 2050. He noted that the small sample size limited the reach of the findings, but statistician Daniela Dunkler at the Medical University of Vienna said that it is reasonable to estimate that more than half of the world's population may have microplastics in their stool.

According to the study, published Monday in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, up to nine types of plastic were found in the stool samples.

Contamination of food through processing or packaging as a result of plastic wrapped food items and drinks in plastic bottles have also been cited. They have turned up everywhere from the seafloor to farm soil to the air around us-as well as in the first few foods and beverages scientists looked at-making it nearly certain people have been ingesting them. Swabi has said that now that they have the ability to detect microplastics in stool a much larger study can be performed.

People from the United Kingdom and seven other countries took part in the study - and up to 20 pieces of plastic were found in every 10g of stool sample. Exposure to it has been found to result in genital deformities and early puberty and may even contribute to obesity and cancer. It is estimated that, due to pollution, two to five per cent of all plastics produced end up in the seas where they are consumed by sea animals and enter the food chain. They sampled stool because it was easy to obtain and had "a high likelihood to be contaminated with ingested microplastics". In some participants, as many as nine different plastics were found, sized between 50 and 500 micrometers.

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". "Now we need to think about how it will impact human health", said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. They are then likely to also be consumed by humans.

First, microparticles are present in our body along with food and drinks from plastic containers.

It has become virtually impossible to escape eating plastic, but its health implications are largely unknown.

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