19 Jun Study suggests the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain
Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna who led the study, said: “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.”
Previous studies on fish have also found plastics in the gut. Micro-plastics have been found in tap water around the world, in the oceans and in flying insects. A recent investigation in Italy also found micro-plastics present in soft drinks. The ingestion of plastic has been found to remodel the tiny finger-like projections inside the small intestine, disrupt iron absorption and add to stress on the liver. The smallest micro-plastic particles are capable of entering the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, and may even reach the liver,” said Schwabl.
Scientists know that micro-plastic particles are entering our bodies. They also know that the particles transport molecules that are harmful to humans at certain concentrations.
According to Rachel Adams, a senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University, ingesting micro-plastics could cause a number of potentially harmful effects, such as:
- Inflammation: when inflammation occurs, the body’s white blood cells and the substances they produce protect us from infection. This normally protective immune system can cause damage to tissues.
- An immune response to anything recognized as ‘foreign’ to the body: immune responses such as these can cause damage to the body.
- Becoming carriers for other toxins that enter the body: micro-plastics generally repel water and will bind to toxins that don’t dissolve, so micro-plastics can bind to compounds containing toxic metals such as mercury, and organic pollutants such as some pesticides and chemicals called dioxins, which are known to cause cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental problems.
- The other thing we know is that these micro-plastic particles are in our body “regarded” as estrogen and as such they can wreak havoc on our hormonal systems in both women and men.
Why you may be ingesting a credit card’s worth of PLASTIC each week as tiny particles are found in drinking water, beer and food all over the world. Drinking water is the largest contributor of micro-plastics, with the tiny particles found in bottled, tap, surface and groundwater all over the world