Plastic is everywhere.
It is in the bottles, packages, and products we use, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and now for the first time ever, scientists have found it in our blood.
It is already known from previous studies that humans consume about 2,000 microplastic particles per day equaling about 5 grams or the size of a credit card. This plastic dust has already been found in human feces and consumption can be especially high in infants who are formula-fed with plastic bottles. But now with this latest discovery, even more concerning questions arise about the impact that plastic pollution could be having on our health.
The researchers in Amsterdam analyzed the blood samples of 22 healthy donors. While sampling the blood of participants, the team took precautions to avoid plastic contamination of the blood by using stainless steel needles directly into glass vials and they tested and accounted for any background plastic particles.
- 80% of the samples or 17 of the 22 donors came back positive for traces of microplastics larger than 700 nanometers across.
- The most significant amount of microplastic found was in the form of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) a plastic commonly used in bottles, food packaging, clothing, and even some lip glosses.
- The second most abundant microplastic was polystyrene, the substance that makes up styrofoam and is also used in various household items.
- The third microplastic found was polyethylene, used to create plastic bags, detergents, and some kinds of toothpaste.
What we still don’t know is exactly how plastic could interfere with our cells, organs, or other bodily systems. The question is especially urgent when it comes to babies and children. With these findings, it is clear that more research is needed on the health implications of microplastics on humans.
What we do know: plastic is not going away fast enough. Since its production began in the 1950s, we have made about 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic, and that number is set to double by 2050. 80% of the world’s plastic is now in landfills and plastic pollution has clouded our oceans and has even been found near the peak of Mt. Everest.
Doing our best to minimize our use of plastic on a daily basis is an important step toward protecting our health. Choose glass, silicone, and plastic-free materials like wood whenever you can.