Are we ingesting plastics?
With an average of eight million tons of plastic waste ending up in the world’s oceans from coastal regions, it’s no surprise plastics are being found in the guts of marine animals, and even some birds. Yet recent discoveries have found microplastics in human stools.
At the United European Gastroenterology meeting held in Vienna, Researchers recently announced that microplastics have been found in the stools of eight different test subjects, each from different countries: Austria, Italy, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the UK. The participants each kept records of the foods taken for a week, before stool samples were deposited in glass jars, enclosed in biohazard bags, and shipped in cardboard boxes. All stool samples had microplastics in them.
From the food records taken, it was deducted that six of the eight participants ate sea fish, all consumed foods either wrapped in plastic containers and drank from plastic bottles.
Lead Researcher at the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Medical University Vienna Philipp Schwabl, said: “Due to the small number of volunteers, we are unable to establish a reliable connection between nutritional behaviour and exposure to microplastics. The effects of the microplastic particles found on the human organism – in particular on the digestive tract – can only be investigated in the context of a larger study.”
He also added: “Although there are initial indications that microplastics can damage the gastrointestinal tract by promoting inflammatory reactions or absorbing harmful substances, further studies are needed to assess the potential dangers of microplastics for humans.”