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News Article

Scientists Find Microplastics in Human Blood

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 03/29/2022 - 10:42

A group of scientists from the University of Amsterdam found microplastic particles in human blood for the first time. The particles were found in the blood of 17 of the 22 study participants. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene and styrene polymers were the most common plastics found.

Studies have found that pollution and waste are present in every inch on the planet and as they continue to spread, their consumption has become inevitable for humans. Microplastics had been previously found in human feces and believed to have been consumed in food or water or breathed through the air.

Blood makes up 6-7 percent of a human’s body weight. It irrigates the body’s organs and is the transport pathway for oxygen and nutrients. The presence of microplastics in blood suggests they are being spread to other tissues and organs. While the current impacts of these particles in the human body is unclear, their ultimate fate depends on whether they can be eliminated by renal filtration or biliary excretion or become deposited in either the liver, the spleen or in other organs via fenestrated capillaries and sinusoids. Previous studies by the WHO determined that microplastic exposure via diet could result in inflammation due to the persistent nature of microplastics and their hydrophobicity and chemical composition.

Moreover, a study carried out by the University of Rovira recently revealed that microplastics could adhere to cell membranes and alter their functioning; in the case of red blood cells, they could limit their ability to transport oxygen.

Inhaled particles may cause asthma-like bronchial reactions, diffuse interstitial fibrosis and granulomas with fiber inclusions such as extrinsic allergic alveolitis and chronic pneumonia, inflammatory and fibrotic changes in the bronchial and peribronchial tissue, and interalveolar septa lesion.

International initiatives are underway to revert the effects of pollution in the human body. For example, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) aims to create climate-resilient health systems that support food and water sanitation and invest in a climate resilient health system with zero carbon emissions, among other initiatives.

“As part of COP26, a specific health program is now in place to support UN member countries in the development and strengthening of sustainable, low-carbon and climate-resilient health systems,” said UK Ambassador to Mexico, Jon Benjamin.

By participating in the COP26, Mexico reinforced its commitment to act upon climate change and alleviate its effects on the environment and human health. The WHO also urged for interventions to reduce air pollution, implement solid waste management, provide access to clean household fuels and cookstoves, develop a market for renewable energies and energy efficiency and reduce industrial emissions.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst