Research Highlights: Microplastics detected in human blood


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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.

Sources:

Leslie, H.A., et al. (2022). Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood, Environment International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107199

[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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eurpolymj.2021.110840

[2] https://www.britannica.com/science/polymethyl-methacrylate

[3] https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/styrene/index.cfm


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