For the first time Micro plastic found in human feces, study shows
Bits of Plastics found in people’s stool in Russia, Europe and Japan.
In a small pilot study all 8 volunteers were found to have passed several types of plastics with an average of 20 micro-particles per 10 grams of stool, researchers reported Tuesday at a gastroenterology congress in Vienna.
Researchers speculated that the tiny specks ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometers.
Plastics may be ingested via plastic bottles, seafood, dusts and food wrapping. In that a human hair is roughly 50 to 100 micrometers in width.
Bettina Liebmann, a researcher at the Federal Environment Agency who analysed the samples said, “In our laboratory, we were able to detect nine different types of plastics."
The two most common plastics were Polyethylene and Polypropylene.
Polyethylene presents in drinking bottles and textile fibres. Polypropylene found in the rope, bottle caps and strapping.
Together with polystyrene (cups, utensils, coolers) and polyethylene (plastic bags), they accounted for more than 95 percent of the particles detected.
Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna the lead author for this study said, "We were unable to establish a reliable connection between nutritional behaviour and exposure to micro plastics."
In earlier research studies, high Concentration of micro plastics were found in the animal’s stomach and intestines, but smaller amounts of micro plastics also detected in the lymph, liver and blood.
Philipp Schwabl said, "There are initial indications that micro plastics can damage the gastrointestinal tract by promoting inflammatory reactions or absorbing harmful substances."
"Further studies are needed to assess the potential dangers of micro plastics for humans."
Philipp Schwabl recruited 3 men and 5 women from the Japan, Italy, Britain, Poland, Russia, Netherland and Finland.
Each person kept a week long log of what they ate and then provided a stool samples.
All consumed foods wrapped in plastics plates, covers and drinks in plastic bottles and six of them ate sea foods. None of them were vegetarians.
Scientists not involved in the study said it was too limited in scope to draw any firm conclusions, especially about health impacts.
Alistair Boxall, a professor in environmental science at the University of York in Britain said, "I'm not at all surprised, or particularly worried by these findings."
"Micro plastics have been found in tap water, bottled water, fish and mussel tissue, and even in beer," he added. "It is therefore inevitable that at least some of these things will get into our lungs and digestive system."
Much more research is needed for a conclusion, Alistair Boxall said, before we can determine the origin of plastics found in the gut, and especially whether they are harmful.
For Stephanie Wright, a researcher at King's College London, the real question is whether plastics are accumulating in the human body.
"What is unknown is whether the concentration of plastic being ingested is higher than that coming out, due to particles crossing the gut wall," she said.
"There is no published evidence to indicate what the health effects might be."
Plastic Production in the world is rapidly increasing year by year and it is currently more than 400 million tonnes per year.
It is estimated that 2 to 5 percent of plastics wind up in the ocean, where much of it breaks down into tiny particles.