Microplastics Are Turning Up In Unusual Places

by | November 9, 2018

You just pooped microplastics. For those of you who might find this statement a bit crass, what humans are doing to the environment is even more objectionable and crass. And this is coming back to bite us, in form of possible health scares.

Forget the visuals of tons of plastic washed up ashore that you might have seen on Facebook or Twitter. Microplastics pollution is turning weirder and dangerous day by day. They are turning up at the most unusual places, we might not have even dreamed of.

The 26th United European Gastroenterology conference at Vienna featured a pilot study wherein it has been claimed that microplastics turned up in human stool. Samples were taken from eight countries across the world and results have been horrifying, to say the least. These countries were Japan, Russia, Poland, Italy, Finland, Netherlands, Austria, and UK.

Lead researcher at the Medical University of Vienna, Philipp Schwabl expressed shock at the results- for EVERY sample tested positive. There were nine different types of plastics present in the stool, with 20 plastic particles present per 10 grams of human feces. All the participants in the study were kept on their regular non vegetarian diet, with majority of them consuming fish on frequent basis. They were exposed to plastics the way we normally are- through drinks packaged in plastic bottles and plastic wrappings for food etc.

There are further investigations going on to check whether this has significant detrimental effect on human health. According to Schwabl, the concern is to determine whether these microplastics have the capability to enter human blood stream, reach liver or impact lymphatic systems. If the answer turns out to be yes, we have got a lot to be worried!

The bigger question isn’t about what we excreted. The grave concern is: what the body retained in the first place?

Researches revolving around effects of microplastics on animals and fish have revealed certain alarming results. There have been signs of liver stress and intestinal damage in animals when exposed to them.

A research article published on Science Advances claimed that ‘8300 million metric tonnes of virgin plastic has bee producer till date’. The research article further adds, ‘As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050’.

Image Source: Science Advances 

Microplastics pollution is serious because the smallest particles size up to, as minute as, 10 nanometres. This is invisible to the human eye. In other words, this means that we would be surrounded by this pollution but won’t be able to realize it. They float in the air and are present everywhere, from our food and water to our soil.

Given that we are highly dependent on plastics in day to day life, it will take a long time to curb the menace. Studies and researches are going on the possible link between microplastics and cancer, let’s see how future unfolds. Meanwhile, let us all pledge to cut away plastics from our day to day life, in whatever capacity we can.



Leave a Comment