For many years researchers were looking for the answer to how dangerous microplastics are for health and the environment? The recent discovery of microplastic in human blood unlocked some answers. Imagine for a second that numerous tiny plastic particles are floating in your blood and those particles are reaching every part of your body. Laboratory tests have shown that microplastics are capable of causing severe damage to human cells. Here is what we know about the health risks and dangers of microplastic in the human body.
What is Microplastic?
Microplastics refer to pieces of plastic that are less than 5 mm in size. These are manufactured in ways that don't require high temperatures or harsh chemicals. They can be found in everything from cosmetics to clothes to food.
Microplastics have become a global concern as they are ingested by marine animals, bioaccumulate in the food chain, and end up in people's bodies. They also threaten human health via their potential to cause cancer and other serious illnesses. However, scientists are still trying to figure out how to manage them.
Microplastics can enter the environment through wastewater treatment plants, rivers, and oceans. They can also be released when microbeads are washed down the drain. The tiny pieces of plastic can contaminate water sources and wildlife. Studies have found that microplastics are present in greater numbers in aquatic environments than previously thought.
How did Researchers find Microplastic in Human Blood?
A team of researchers from Vrije University in the Netherlands recently discovered the presence of microplastics in the human body. Scientists have tested blood samples from 22 adults. And they claim that they have found microplastics in the blood of 17 of the 22 people. These microplastics were found in the blood of about 80% of the people tested. However, the scientists also said that none of those people were sick. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Environment.
Among the 22 samples, half of them contained PET plastic, which is used to make drinks bottles. Besides, one-third of the sample contained polystyrene, which is commonly used in food packaging and other products. And 25% of the samples have polyethylene, the common element of plastic carrier bags.
In developing detection systems for microplastics, mathematicians adapted existing practices of analyzing and detecting particles of 0.0007 millimeters or smaller. Most of the blood samples examined contained at least two kinds of plastic. To prevent contamination, they used steel syringe needles and glass tubes. Tests were carried out using blank samples to confirm the background levels of microplastics.
To have a clear look at the primary findings, the scientists will broaden the sample size in the next research.
How can Microplastic Enter Human Blood?
In this regard, scientists claim that all day long, people at home or elsewhere, knowingly or unknowingly, use plastic materials for their daily needs. Mainly from those large plastic materials, relatively small components, for example, microplastics, get mixed in human blood.
However, scientists have claimed that it is nearly impossible to separate those particles from the human body.
What are the Health Risks and Dangers of the existence of Microplastic in Human Blood?
Sometimes from the environment and sometimes from the plastic material used for everyday needs enters plastic in the human body. Scientists have claimed that there is no decay in them. The researchers said that this could lead to a serious problem in the human body. Following are some of the critical health risks associated with microplastic.
Studies have shown that microplastics can cause cancer. If ingested or inhaled, it may create cancer in the human body as it contains various toxic chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), BPA (bisphenol A), phthalates, lead compounds, etc. The chemicals that plastics release when they are broken down have been linked with cancer growth. The fibers from microplastics have also been connected with respiratory problems, especially in children.
The effect of microplastic depends on the specific plastic element. For example, Bromine can lead to apoptosis and genotoxicity. Genotoxicity is a term used to describe the potential for chemicals or other agents to cause damage to DNA. Genotoxic agents can cause mutations in cells, leading to cancer and other diseases.
Cadmium can change calcium, phosphorus, and bone metabolism. Calcium metabolism is affected by estrogen levels, phosphorus metabolism is affected by the acid-base balance, and bone mineralization is affected by the level of estrogen and other hormones.
If the microplastic has copper, it can lead to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which also includes DNA strand breaks as well as oxidation.
Mercury can cause mutagen or carcinogens. Bedsides and affected humans can face induction of the disruption of DNA molecular structure, which may lead to brain damage.
Tin can create metal–estrogen, skin rashes, breast cancer, stomach complaints, vomiting, headache and palpitations, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and potential clastogen.
Lead in the blood may cause anemia, hypertension, disruption of nervous Systems, miscarriages, oxidative stress, brain damage, infertility, and cell damage.
A tiny plastic particle known as microplastic has been discovered in human blood recently. Through the blood, plastic particles can spread throughout the body and accumulate in any part of the body.
Various research results show how detrimentally plastic pollution has spread across the world. You will not be able to find anywhere there are no plastics, not even on Mount Everest or at the bottom of the ocean.
In conclusion, while more research is needed to determine the full extent of the health risks posed by microplastic in the human body, there is enough evidence to suggest that we should take steps to avoid exposing ourselves to these particles as much as possible. Some simple ways to do this include avoiding products that contain microbeads, reducing consumption of seafood, and properly disposing of waste.