Microplastics Have Made Their Way Into The Human Gut

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Microplastics are virtually everywhere. Last week, The Inquisitr reported that 90 percent of sea salts around the world contain microplastics.

Now, a group of researchers revealed that these tiny plastic pieces have also made their way into the human gut.

In a research presented at the 26th United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week in Vienna, Austria on Oct. 23, Philipp Schwabl, from the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues reported that particles made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene-terephthalate (PET) and others have been found in human stools.

For the study, Schwabl and colleagues tested stool samples from a group of individuals from different countries across the globe including Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, the UK and Austria. The results revealed that each of the stool samples contain microplastics.

Each of the participants kept a food diary in the week that led to the sampling of the stools and this revealed that all of the participants were exposed to plastic by drinking from plastic bottles and consuming plastic-wrapped food.

The stools, which were tested at the Environment Agency Austria for 10 types of plastic, had up to nine different plastics with sizes ranging between 50 and 500 micrometers.

Plastic and other waste lines areas along the Thames Estuary shoreline.
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The researchers on average found 20 microplastic particles per 10 grams of stools and the most common of these were made of polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate.

“Increased plastic pollution can cause plastic contamination of foods, which may affect the GI-tract. We are the first to detect presence of polystyrene and polyurethane microparticles in human stool samples,” the researchers wrote in their study.

In a statement published by Eurekalert, Schwabl said that the study confirmed what has long been suspected, that plastics have finally reached the human gut. The findings raised concern over the potential effects of these microplastics in the human body.

Although little is known about the health effects of microplastics, there is concern that the plastic pieces may affect gastrointestinal health and possibly reach other organs of the body.

“While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the bloodstream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver,” Schwabl said. “Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health.”

The study was small but the fact that microplastics were found in all of the stool samples suggested a high likelihood that many other people also involuntarily ingest microplastics, Schwabl told Live Science.