Microplastics Found in Human Blood for the First Time in ‘Extremely Concerning’ Study

Researchers found tiny particles of plastic in human blood for the first time in an “extremely concerning” study, but their impact on health is still unknown.

Dutch scientists at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University Medical Center discovered microplastics in the blood of 17 out of 22 healthy adults.

Though the levels were low, at an average of 1.6 micrograms in every milliliter of blood, Professor Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist, said that the findings were “certainly alarming.”

“It shows that people apparently ingest or inhale so much plastic that it can be found in the bloodstream,” Vethaak told The Independent, adding that the particles can cause chronic inflammation.

The researchers said the microplastics can enter the body from the air or be ingested through food and drink.

According to the findings published in the journal Environment International, scientists found PET plastic, used to make drink bottles, in half of the volunteers.

Furthermore, scientists found polystyrene, which is widely used in food package, in 36% of the volunteers while polyethylene, which is commonly used in packaging films and bags, was present in 23%.

Microplastics have been previously found to cause damage to human cells in the laboratory and have caused millions of early deaths a year.

“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood — ​it’s a breakthrough result,” Vethaak told The Guardian.

“But we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc.” Vethaak said, adding that further studies by other groups are already underway.

Jo Royle, the chief executive of Common Seas, which commissioned the research, said, “We have a right to know what all this plastic is doing to our bodies.”

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