Last month we were looking at the amount of plastics humans consume each week. And we’re not talking about the amount of plastics humans use, we’re talking about the amount of plastics humans unintentionally ingest via their food or water. It has since been reported that scientists have now found plastics in human blood samples.
The study was conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. They analysed samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults, and found microplastics in 17 of them, 77%.
Alarmingly, half of the samples contained PET plastic which is most commonly used for single-use water bottles. PET plastics are found throughout the supermarket shelves in personal care products, pantry food items, cleaning products and dairy products. One third of the samples contained polystyrene, and one quarter contained polyethylene, which is the plastic from which single-use bags are made.
Professor Dick Vethaak, conducting the research, commented: “The big question is what is happening in our body? Are the particles retained in the body? Are they transported to certain organs, such as getting past the blood-brain barrier? And are these levels sufficiently high to trigger disease? We urgently need to fund further research so we can find out.”
The study has suggested that plastics in our blood may have the potential to travel to our organs, posing more questions than answers and the urgent need for more in-depth research into the effects of plastics in our body.
Following our last newsletter, one of our readers asked what is a microplastic and how do we consume them? Basically, most plastics do not make it to recycling and when they find themselves in our oceans or landfill they gradually breakdown. It can take up to 500 years for a plastic to completely breakdown to its original form (typically hydrocarbons) but as they do, microplastics (tiny plastic particles which are not necessarily visible to the human eye) remain. These are then left in water sources or can be consumed by land or water based animals that we subsequently consume. It is also thought that PET bottles excrete microplastics into the product they are holding as the water in single-use plastic water bottles typically contains more microplastics than tap water.