Reference Assessment of microplastics concentrations in human stool - Preliminary results of a prospective study - Philipp Schwabl, Bettina Liebmann, Sebastian Köppel, Philipp Königshofer, Theresa Bucsics, Michael Trauner, Thomas Reiberger, presented in the scope of the UEG Week 2018 in Vienna on 24 October 2018. A research team in Vienna examined stool from participants in Europe, Japan, and Russian Federation and found out that every single person who took part had some form of plastic in their bodies from ingesting some form of microplastic particles.
More than 95 percent of the particles came from plastics used in food packaging and storage. All participants' feces contained traces of polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene, which are commonly used in plastic drinking bottles and their lids.
Schwabl said he found the data "astonishing". Rochman says for water, "reverse osmosis filters are lovely, and we use them in our laboratory". Up to now, people believed it, but now we know it.
"People shouldn't be frightened, but we should all be very aware that clearly there's way, way too much plastic in our environment and we are hugely overusing single-use plastic", he said.
Sherri Mason of the State University of NY at Fredonia, who headed up that study, noted that there were numerous health implications of ingesting microplastic, including various kinds of cancer, lower sperm count and even an increase in conditions such as ADHD and autism.
Microplastics have been found in seafood, bottled water, and even the air. Then, those samples were cleared of all the stuff that's expected to be there, like proteins and undigested plant matter, leaving the remainder to be tested for 10 different kinds of microplastic.
The participants in the study, five women and three men aged 33-65, live in Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Russia, Japan and Austria.
Each person in the test kept a food diary, with all of the individuals consuming foods packaged in plastics in some way throughout the experiment.
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"We will also be exposed to particles from house dust, food packaging materials and the use of plastic bottles". Once in oceans, they are consumed by sea animals and move up the food chain. A human hair has a diameter of about 50 microns.
Microplastics include rubber abrasion from vehicle tyres, construction rubble and cosmetics ingredients.
Global plastic production has grown rapidly since the 1950s and now is more than 400 million tons per year.
It was once thought the risk to health was largely limited to eating marine creatures from oceans polluted with plastic. In addition, microplastics may cause damage to the intestines and affect how well the body absorbs nutrients, he said. Once there, the plastic is eaten by sea animals and enter the food chain.
"Obviously, having it in our digestive tract, the potential for direct exposure could potentially be greater", Spaeth said. A presentation at a gastroenterology conference in Vienna this week reported the preliminary results of a pilot study looking at fecal samples, finding nine different kinds of microplastics in the samples they analyzed.
Meanwhile, Schwabl says he and his colleagues are applying for funding so they can try to replicate their initial findings in a larger study.
The Environmental Protection Agency has more about plastics and health.