In recent months, researchers reported finding microplastics in the lung tissue of approximately a dozen patients awaiting surgery as well as in the bloodstream of a few anonymous donors. Microplastics were reportedly discovered in placentas in a recent study.
Recent research has shown that microplastics are everywhere, that they often get into people’s bodies when they breathe or eat or drink, and that they end up in important body systems.
There are valid reasons to be concerned about how these tiny bits of plastic affect our physiology, according to some studies using lab animals and cells grown outside the body.
What is still unclear is whether or not these tiny particles pose any health risks at the concentrations that have been observed. Scientists say that the recent flurry of studies and news stories are their first steps toward figuring out how these particles affect our daily lives.
There are microplastics in the air we breathe, but what does that mean for us? “For the time being, we have no idea how to respond to that inquiry.,” a U.K. researcher says. The study was led by researchers at Hull York Medical School in the UK.
Professor of water quality and health at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Dick Vethaak said scientists are just beginning to consider the health consequences. “I’m most concerned about increasing microplastic concentrations in the coming decades,” Vethaak said. If we’re dealing with a serious risk, we won’t know for 10 to 15 years.
Most studies on microplastics conducted to date have used a small number of samples and been primarily concerned with identifying microplastics and calculating exposure.
Studies suggest microplastics could cause inflammatory responses, oxidative stress and cell damage. The data from the most recent studies could propel more research into microplastic and health.
Bush, Evan. “Researchers Found Microplastics in Human Lungs and Bloodstreams. Should We Be Concerned?” NBC News, 11 Apr. 2022, http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/microplastics-human-body-know-dont-know-rcna23331.