Experts from Arizona State University have shown that tiny particles of plastic can enter and accumulate in human tissues and organs. They can lead to infertility and cancer.
Previously, researchers have already determined that nanoplastics enter the organisms of wild animals and can cause infertility, tissue inflammation, and even cancer. However, scientists did not know what consequences it could cause in humans. Previous studies have shown that plastic can pass through the gastrointestinal tract, after which scientists at the University of Arizona wondered if tiny particles accumulate in human organs.
The scientists reported that they were among the first to investigate the effect of micro- and nanoplastics on human tissues and organs. In their study, they examined 47 tissue samples. These included tissues taken from the kidneys, liver, lungs, and spleen. The team found that plastic was present in every tissue sample that was analyzed.
Plastic can be found all over the earth. For several decades, we thought that this material was good, but now we understand that it can be harmful to us. We now have evidence that plastic is entering our bodies. We do not yet know if this plastic is just a hindrance or is a danger to human health.
Biologist Charles Rolsky, Arizona State University
The researchers also created a model that converts information about the number of plastic particles into units of mass and surface area. They plan to share this tool online so other researchers can standardize their results. Scientists note that these data will help create a base on which population groups and in which countries are more affected by microplastics.
The method detects dozens of types of plastic components in human tissue, including polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polyethylene (PE). However, the study authors note that further epidemiological studies are needed to clarify the consequences.