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Microplastics found in human blood for first time after scientists make 'concerning finding'

For the first time ever, tiny particles of plastic were found in blood. This raises concerns about long-term health effects.

Dutch scientists discovered that 17 of 22 volunteers (or 77%) had “quantifiable microplastics blood.

The levels were low at an average level of 1.6 micrograms (11.6 millionthsof a gram) per millilitre.

However, the mere existence of microplastics (fragments of everyday items) in the bloodstream can be very significant.


PET, which is used in the manufacture of drinks bottles, was the most commonly detected plastic. According to research published in Environment International, it was detected in half of the volunteers.

Polystyrene is a widely-used material in food packaging. Polyethylene was found in 23%.

Researchers from Vrije University Amsterdam and Amsterdam University Medical Centre believe that the microplastics were likely to have been inhaled before being absorbed into bloodstream.

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The plastic fragments are described as “ubiquitous pollutant in the living environment, food chain” by the researchers. However, they have not been detected in blood samples.

They conclude that “The plastic particle concentrations here are the sum total of all possible exposure routes: sources in living environment entering air and water, food, and personal care products that might ingested.

“Plastic particles are not only present in the environment but also in our bodies”

Independent scientists affirmed that the findings were solid because the researchers went to great lengths in excluding the possibility of contamination.

Dr Alice Horton is an expert on “anthropogenic contaminants” and works at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre. She said that this was a worrying finding because particles of this size were shown to cause inflammation and damage cells under laboratory conditions.

“This study supports the idea that plastic particles are not only present in the environment, but also pervade our bodies.

“The long-term effects of this are still unknown.”

Expert in environmental pollution at University of Portsmouth Dr Fay Couceiro said that it was impossible for the results of such a small study to be extrapolated to the entire population.

She added that “The ability detect its (plastic) presence is crucial to us realising our urgent need to do further research in this area.

“Also, blood connects all of the organs in our body, and if there is plastic, it could be anywhere.”


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