Rome, March 24 (Adnkronos Salute) – Microplastics are contaminating the entire planet: from the summit of Everest to the deepest oceans. But if until now these particles, ingested or inhaled by food and water, had been found in the stools of adults and children, for the first time they were found in human blood. In a Dutch study published in ‘Environment International’, the authors found them in nearly 80% of people tested, demonstrating that microplastic particles can ‘travel’ in the body and lodge in organs. Their impact on health is still unknown, but researchers are concerned because cell damage has been observed in the laboratory.
Gli scienziati hanno analizzato campioni di sangue di 22 donatori anonimi, tutti adulti sani, e hanno trovato particelle di plastica in 17. La metà dei campioni conteneva plastica Pet, comunemente usata nelle bottigliette, mentre un terzo conteneva polistirene, usato per confezionare alimenti e altri Products. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic bags are made.
“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – it’s a groundbreaking result,” said Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, who authored the research. “But we need to expand the study and increase the sample size, the number of polymers evaluated, etc.,” he said, noting that more research is already underway.
“It is reasonable to be concerned,” Vethaak told the Guardian. “Palstica particles are transported throughout the body,” he explained, recalling that a previous study had shown that the presence of microplastics was 10 times higher in the stools of children than in adults. “We also generally know that babies and young children are more vulnerable to exposure to chemicals and particles,” he said. “That worries me a lot.”
The researcher acknowledged that the amount and type of plastic varied widely between blood samples. “But this is a groundbreaking study,” he said, reiterating that more research is needed. The differences could reflect short-term exposure before blood samples were taken, such as drinking from a plastic-lined coffee cup or wearing a plastic face mask, the expert said.
“The main question to answer – underlined Vethak – is what happens in our body? Are the particles retained and transported to certain organs, for example by crossing the blood-brain barrier?”. And again, “Are these levels high enough to trigger disease? We urgently need to fund more studies to find out,” he concluded. The new research was funded by the Netherlands National Organization for Health Research and Development and Common Seas, a social enterprise working to reduce plastic pollution.