Microplastics Found in Human Feces for the First Time

Tiny particles of plastic are seemingly everywhere: So-called microplastics have been found in the ocean, tap water, bottled water and soil. According to a study presented at the meeting, microplastics made their way into the human body and were found the stools for the first time.

A new study that tested stool samples of eight individuals from countries across the globe, including Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland and Russian Federation, revealed evidence of microplastics in every sample tested.

Speaking about the findings Dr Luiza Mirpuri, the organisation's medical adviser, said: "It will be catastrophic, not now but in the third generation because each time we have diseases, new diseases from new contaminants".

He explains that the biggest concentration of plastic in animal studies were found in the gut, but the smaller particles can enter the blood stream, lymphatic system, and even the liver.

The study focused in detail on eight people from around the world: one each from the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Finland, Russia and Japan. The most common were polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), both found in food and drink packaging.

There isn't any evidence so far of whether ingesting microplastics is unsafe to humans, let alone the specific effects, but the researchers believe that gastrointestinal plastic might have a clinical impact.

Use of plastics have gone up dramatically in the last few decades. The results are presented today at the International UEG Gastroenterology Congress in Vienna and form the basis for further investigations on a larger scale. The data showed that all of them had consumed food that came in plastic wrapping, and had drunk water from plastic bottles.

Monday's study may be the first to show the presence of plastics in the human gut, and it comes a few months after the World Health Organization announced it would investigate the potential effects of plastic on human health.

Of those who participated in the study, none were vegetarians, and six ate fish. A 2017 study found that Americans likely eat at least 660 particles of microplastic each year - and that's just from salt intake. Every single batch of crap they picked apart tested positive for microplastics. Another report sampling popular water bottle brands found that 90% of them contained pieces of plastic, estimating some 10 particles per liter on average, though an exact number can't be identified as some particles are too small to be detected.

"The absorption of microplastics in the gastrointestinal tract and therefore the detection thereof in faeces is expected since for example toothpaste with microplastics can also be accidentally swallowed or food products can also contain such particles as contaminants", BfR told dpa. Which, if one thinks about it, only makes sense since we're eating and drinking them.

Whether microplastics pose a health risk to humans is largely unknown, though they have been found to cause some damage in fish and other animals.

Eight participants from seven countries took part i the study, keeping a diary of their consumption.

Up to nine different kinds of plastics were detected, ranging in size from.002 to.02 inches. However, the material can penetrate into and through other organisms such as marine creatures that consume plastic waste.

It's no news that the plastics contaminated the environment we all live into to a significant degree.

  • Joey Payne