10 Shocking Facts About Microplastics Invading Your Body

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You’ve probably heard of microplastics polluting the oceans, but did you know these tiny plastic particles are also making their way into your body? From the food you eat to the air you breathe, microplastics are everywhere. Here are 10 disturbing facts about how these microscopic invaders could be affecting your health.

1. Microplastics have been found in human blood

In a groundbreaking study, researchers discovered microplastics circulating in human blood for the first time. Out of 22 healthy volunteers, 17 had plastic particles in their blood samples. Half of the samples contained PET plastic, commonly used in drink bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, used for packaging and many other products.

The long-term health impacts are unknown

While the presence of microplastics in blood is alarming, scientists don’t yet know what this means for human health. Plastic particles could potentially be transported to organs via the bloodstream. Further research is urgently needed to investigate the full implications.

2. Humans consume up to a credit card’s worth of plastic per week

You may be eating, drinking and breathing in up to 2000 tiny pieces of plastic each week, according to a study commissioned by the WWF. That’s approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year – equivalent to a standard credit card.

Food and water are common sources

The biggest source of plastic ingestion is drinking water, with plastic particles found in both tap and bottled water all over the world. Shellfish, salt and beer are also major contributors, as plastic waste accumulates in the oceans and rivers.

3. Microplastics discovered in the placentas of unborn babies

In an Italian study, microplastics were found in 4 out of 6 human placentas, meaning unborn babies are being exposed to plastic particles. Microplastics can carry chemicals that could cause long-term damage or upset the fetus’s developing immune system.

Particles may be consumed or inhaled by the mother

Researchers believe microplastics may be consumed by the mother through food and drink packaging and containers. Plastic particles inhaled by the mother may also eventually reach the placenta.

4. Microplastics found in the lungs of living people

Plastic particles have been discovered deep in the lungs of living people for the first time. In a small study, 11 out of 13 lung tissue samples contained microplastics, including PET and resin.

We’re exposed to microplastics with every breath

With each breath you take, you may be inhaling microscopic plastic particles suspended in the air. Synthetic textiles and vehicle tires are believed to be major sources of airborne microplastics in urban environments.

5. Infants are exposed to 10 times more microplastics than adults

Bottle-fed infants swallow millions of microplastic particles a day, according to research published in the journal Nature Food. Researchers estimate that infants are exposed to 14600–4,550,000 microplastic particles per day in 48 regions, compared to 3000–65,000 particles for adults.

Microplastics released from plastic bottles

High levels of microplastics released from plastic infant feeding bottles were responsible for much of this exposure. The bottles can release up to 16 million microplastics per litre when sterilized and exposed to high temperatures.

6. Microplastics discovered in human feces

A pilot study found microplastics in human stool samples from participants across Europe and Asia. Nine different types of plastic were found, with polypropylene and PET being the most common. On average, 20 microplastic particles per 10g of stool were detected.

A sign that microplastics are passing through the gut

While the health implications are unclear, the presence of microplastics in feces indicates that microplastics are passing through the human gastrointestinal tract. Some microplastics may be accumulating in the gut, while others are being excreted.

7. Plastic particles found lodged in the penises of humans and dogs

A small study examining urinary tract tissue biopsies found plastic particles in the penises of both humans and dogs. Polypropylene and polyethylene particles were discovered in all seven human samples and in three of the seven dog samples.

A possible link to erectile dysfunction

Researchers believe the plastic particles may have entered the body through ingestion or inhalation. While more research is needed, the plastic contamination could be linked to higher rates of erectile dysfunction in recent decades.

8. Microplastics found in farm soil fertilized with sewage

Microplastic contamination has been discovered in soil on farms that use sewage sludge as fertilizer. Sewage sludge is commonly used on farms worldwide, meaning microplastics could be accumulating in agricultural soil globally and potentially entering the food chain.

Crops may absorb plastic particles through their roots

Studies have shown that microplastics in soil can be taken up by the roots of vegetables like lettuce and carrots. While levels detected in edible plant parts have been low so far, this raises concerns about crops grown in contaminated soil.

9. Microplastics can cross the blood-brain barrier in mice

In a lab study, microplastic particles were found in the brains of mice after being orally administered. The tiny plastic particles were able to cross the blood-brain barrier – a protective layer that keeps foreign substances out of the brain.

Potential neurotoxic effects on the human brain

If microplastics can infiltrate the human brain, they could potentially have neurotoxic effects. While it’s unclear whether this lab study translates to real-world human exposure, it raises troubling questions that urgently need further investigation.

10. Plastic particles found in cadavers’ brains

A small study examining postmortem brain tissue found plastic particles in all 13 samples tested. Up to 22 microplastic fragments per gram of brain tissue were detected. The most abundant types of plastic were polycarbonate, polyethylene and polypropylene.

Microplastics may enter the brain via the bloodstream or nose

The origins of the plastic contamination are unknown, but researchers hypothesize the microplastics may have entered the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier after being ingested, or by traveling through the nose and crossing the blood-brain barrier after being inhaled.

The microplastic invasion of the human body has begun

The research is clear: from the womb to old age, microplastics are infiltrating the human body. This plastic contamination has even breached the final frontier of the human brain. While many of the long-term health implications remain a disturbing mystery, the evidence we have so far offers an alarming glimpse into the potentially far-reaching consequences of humanity’s addiction to plastic.

As individuals, we can take steps to reduce our plastic consumption and exposure. However, we cannot tackle this crisis alone. Governments and corporations must act now to dramatically curb plastic pollution at its source before irreversible damage is done. The microplastic invasion has begun, and the future of human health hangs in the balance.


1. How can I reduce my exposure to microplastics?
You can reduce your microplastic exposure by using less plastic, especially single-use plastics like water bottles and food packaging. Opt for reusable glass or stainless steel containers instead. Avoid heating food in plastic containers, as heat can increase the amount of microplastics released. Wash synthetic clothes less frequently and on lower heat settings. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to capture airborne microplastic particles in your home.

2. Are there any regulations on microplastics?
Some countries have begun to regulate microplastics, but much more action is needed globally. In the US, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 banned plastic microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics. The EU has also restricted intentionally added microplastics in products like cosmetics, detergents and fertilizers. However, secondary microplastics that break down from larger plastic waste remain largely unregulated.

3. What can be done to solve the microplastics crisis?
To tackle the microplastics crisis, we need urgent action from governments and corporations to reduce plastic production and waste. This includes phasing out single-use plastics, improving recycling systems, and investing in alternative materials. Stricter regulations are needed on the use of plastic in products like tires and textiles that are major sources of microplastics. Individuals can help by reducing their own plastic footprint, supporting legislation to curb plastic pollution, and holding companies accountable. It will take a global effort to turn the tide on the microplastics invasion, but the health of current and future generations depends on it.

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