Microplastics have been found in remote places on the planet, such as the Arctic Circle or Mount Everest, but also in the stomach of sharks or penguins and in human feces and placenta. Now a study shows for the first time that they can also be found in the bloodstream of people.
Those responsible for this work are the researchers Heather Leslie and Marja Lamoree, from the Free University of Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit), who confirm that tiny pieces of plastic from our living environment can be absorbed by the human bloodstream. The results are part of the Immunoplast project and are published in the scientific journal Environment International.
New analytical method: measurable quantities in the blood
To reach their conclusions, the research team developed an analytical method to establish the trace level of micro and nanoplastic particles in human blood. The method was applied to the blood of 22 anonymous donors and examined for the presence of five different polymers, the building blocks of plastic. The degree of presence of each of the polymers in the blood was also determined.
According to the analysis, three quarters of the subjects analyzed seemed to have plastics in their blood, the university said in a statement: this research, it says, is the first to show that plastic particles can end up in the human bloodstream.
Previous indicators of this came from laboratory experiments, but current research shows that people absorb microplastics from their environment in their daily lives and that the amounts are measurable in their blood.
The overall concentration of plastic particles in the blood of the 22 donors averaged 1.6 micrograms per milliliter, which is comparable to a teaspoon of plastic in 1,000 liters of water (ten large bathtubs). A quarter of the donors tested had no detectable amounts of plastic particles of any kind.