Research Highlights: Microplastics detected in human blood

Microplastics detected in human blood

  • Plastic particles are common substances in the environment and food chain that cause pollution.
  • However, little is known about the exposure of plastic particles in human blood.
  • Researchers aimed to develop a strong and sensitive experimental method in order to measure plastic particles greater than 700 nanometers in human blood from 22 healthy participants.
  • Researchers discovered four polymers used in plastic production from human blood.
  • Polyethylene terephthalate, polyethylene and polymers of styrene, polymethyl-methacrylate, and polypropylene were all detected from the blood.
  • Polyethylene terephthalate is a common polymer resin of the polyester family and is utilized in fabrics, liquid and food containers, and thermoforming.[1]
  • Polymethyl-methacrylate is a transparent and rigid plastic often used to substitute glass such as shatterproof, skylights, and illuminated signs.[2]
  • Styrene is commonly used to make plastics and rubber for insulation, pipes, vehicle parts, printer cartridges, food containers, and carpet backing.[3]
  • Three of the polymers were quantified; however, polypropylene had a value so small that it could not be quantified.
  • The mean of the sum quantifiable concentration of plastic particles was 1.6 µg/ml.
  • The result shows the first measurement of the mass concentration of plastic polymers in human blood.
  • The study highlights the bioavailability of plastic particles for uptake into the human circulatory system.
  • Future study is needed to understand plastic particle exposure in humans and the related health hazard.


Leslie, H.A., et al. (2022). Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood, Environment International.

[1] De Vos, Lobke; Van de Voorde, Babs; Van Daele, Lenny; Dubruel, Peter; Van Vlierberghe, Sandra (December 2021). “Poly(alkylene terephthalate)s: From current developments in synthetic strategies towards applications”. European Polymer Journal. 161: 110840.



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