Oct 24, 2018

Surprising but not unexpected. Microplastics are everywhere, including inside us humans. This is according to a small study done in Austria which found microplastic in human feces.

Eight people from Europe, Russia, and Japan participated in the study conducted by the Environment Agency Austria. All their stool samples tested positive for nine of ten plastic varieties including polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate.

nolisoli fixture health microplastics salt seafood
Fish and shellfish ingest amounts of microplastics as well, which we, in turn, could end up eating.

“This is the first study of its kind and confirms what we have long suspected, that plastics ultimately reach the human gut. Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases,” said Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna, the lead of the study.

However, the researchers were quick to add that they did not access the dangers the findings pose on human health, noting that further study is needed to do so.

ocean plastic
Plastic doesn’t totally decompose, especially underwater where its decomposition requirements aren’t met. Instead, it breaks down into smaller particles known as microplastic. Photo courtesy of bioplastics.org.au

The participants of the study, three men and five women, aged 33 to 65, were tasked to record their daily food intake prior to the stool testing. All participants ate food packaged in plastic and drank bottled water. But the researchers were adamant to link the microplastics to any of the food they ingested.

In an interview with the National Geographic, Chelsea Rochman, an ecologist studying the effects of microplastic in fishes at the University of Toronto said: “I’d say microplastics in poop are not surprising. For me, it shows we are eating our waste—mismanagement has come back to us on our dinner plates. And yes, we need to study how it may affect humans.”

 

Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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TAGS: health microplastics