A study by researchers from The Netherlands has found Microplastics in blood samples. About half of these were PET (polyethylene tertraphthalate) plastics, which is used to make food grade bottles.
What are Microplastics?
- Microplastics are tiny bits of various types of plastic found in the environment.
- The name is used to differentiate them from “macroplastics” such as bottles and bags made of plastic.
- There is no universal agreement on the size of microplastics. It defines microplastic as less than 5mm in length.
- However, for the purposes of this study, since the authors were interested in measuring the quantities of plastic that can cross the membranes and diffuse into the body via the blood stream.
- Hence they agreed on an upper limit on the size of the particles as 0.0007 millimetre
Health hazard of microplastics
- It is not yet clear if these microplastics can cross over from the blood stream to deposit in organs and cause diseases.
- The report point out that the human placenta has shown to be permeable to tiny particles of polystyrene ( 50, 80 and 24 nanometre beads).
- Experiments on rats where its lungs were exposed to polystryrene spheres (20 nanometre) led to translocation of the nanoparticles to the placental and fetal tissue.
- Oral administration of microplastics in rats led to accumulation of these in the liver, kidney and gut.
- Further studies have to be carried out to really assess the impact of plastics on humans.
Source – The Hindu