A new study shows that tiny particles were found in almost 80% of the people tested
Microplastics – tiny plastic particles – are ubiquitous pollutants and can be found almost everywhere on earth. Previously, they’ve been found at the top of Mount Everest, in the Mariana Trench, and now in a new vessel; human blood.
Scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults, and found plastic particles in 17 of the samples. Half the samples contained PET plastic, the plastic commonly used in drinks bottles. A third of the samples contained polystyrene, usually used for packaging food and other products. And, a quarter of the blood samples contained polyethene, the material used to make plastic carrier bags.
The scientists behind this discovery have seen that the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. Currently, the impact on our health is as yet unknown. However, researchers are concerned as microplastics have been seen to cause damage to human cells in the laboratory. And, it’s clear climate change is already having a serious impact on our health as air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of early deaths a year. As a result, climate activists have taken to social media to warn the public of the harm that will continue to occur if we do not alter our behaviour, both as individuals and as a society.
Professor Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, who lead the study, told the Guardian, “Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – it’s a breakthrough result. But we have to extend the research, increase the sample sizes and the number of polymers assessed.” He also confirmed that a number of further studies by a variety of different organisations are already underway.