The ubiquitous microplastic was first discovered deep in the lungs of living people. Particles were found in almost all analyzed samples, ie in tissue samples of 11 of 13 patients who underwent surgery. The most commonly found particles are polypropylene (PP), which is used in plastic food packaging, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used to make clothes and bottles.

Research called „Detection of microplastics in human lung tissue using μFTIR spectroscopy“ it was published in a journal Science of the Total Environment, and samples of healthy lung tissue were used for it, and particles up to 0.003 mm in size were analyzed. Scientists have said that microplastic pollution is now ubiquitous across the planet, making human exposure seem inevitable and leading to potentially dangerous consequences for human health.

It is known that we inhale small particles of microplastics, and consume them through food and water, as well as that workers who have been exposed to high levels of microplastics have also developed various diseases. Two previous studies have found microplastics in a similar number of cases in lung tissue taken during autopsies.

Thus, a study by Brazilian researchers from 2021 revealed microplastics in 13 out of 20 analyzed persons, and polyethylene, which is used in plastic bags, was one of the most common particles found. The researchers then concluded that “harmful health outcomes may be associated with these contaminants after inhalation.”

An earlier American study from 1998, conducted on patients with lung cancer, found plastic fibers in 97 percent of cancerous tissue, while as many as 83 percent of non-cancerous samples were contaminated.

“We did not expect to find such a large amount of particles in the lower parts of the lungs, nor the size of the particles found,” said Dr. Laura Sadofsky, one of the authors of the study, from the British Medical School Hull York. “This is surprising because the airways are smaller in the lower lungs and we would expect particles of this size to be filtered or trapped before they penetrate this deep. These data enable important advances in the field of research into air pollution, and the impact of microplastics on human health. The obtained data can be used to create real conditions in laboratory experiments and determine the impact of microplastics on human health, “added Dr. Sadofsky.

Scientists warn of the great importance of more detailed research on how micro- and nanoplastics affect human health, and whether and how they can transform cells and influence disease development. This is, of course, especially important due to the large increase in world plastic production.

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Source: E2 Portal by www.e2.rs.

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