Microplastics found in human blood

Microplastics found in human blood for the first time. Image: Pexels-Karolina Grabowska.

Microplastics found in human blood…wait what?!

Yes it’s true. Scientists have found microplastics in human blood and the consequences thereof are still unknown.

Microplastics found in human blood

Microplastics found in human blood for the first time. Image: Pexels-Karolina Grabowska.

A study has revealed that for the first time ever, microplastics were found in human blood. And more alarming, it shows that the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs.

According to The Guardian, scientists have found the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested, but the impact on health is yet unknown.


During the study, scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous and healthy adult donors and found plastic particles in 17.

According to The Guardian, half the samples contained PET plastic, commonly used in drink bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, typically used in food packaging. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic carrier bags are made.

Researchers have raised concerns after it was found that microplastics cause damage to human cells. It is already known that air pollution particles can enter the body and cause millions of early deaths a year.

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“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – ​it’s a breakthrough result,” said Prof Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, according to The Guardian.

“But we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc. Further studies by a number of groups are already underway,” he added.

He continued to explain that previous work had shown that microplastics were 10 times higher in the faeces of babies compared with adults and that babies fed with plastic bottles are swallowing millions of microplastic particles a day.

“We also know in general that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure,” he said. “That worries me a lot.”

The research, published in the journal Environment International detected and analysed particles as small as 0.0007mm. Some of the blood samples contained two or three types of plastic.

The team used steel syringe needles and glass tubes to avoid contamination and tested for background levels of microplastics using blank samples, as published by The Guardian.

In his statement, Vethaak acknowledged that the amount and type of plastic varied considerably between the blood samples. “But this is a pioneering study,” he said, with more work now needed.

Vethaak continued by saying the differences might reflect short-term exposure before the blood samples were taken, such as drinking from a plastic-lined coffee cup or wearing a plastic face mask.

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