Plastics evident in human faeces, study finds

26 October, 2018, 01:08 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • Crap! Ice-cream at a toilet-themed restaurant in Beijing

The NOAA defines microplastic as a piece of plastic that is less than five millimeters in length.

"Of particular concerns is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases", said Schwabl.

The study looked at eight individuals from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria.

In this new study, Schwabl and his colleagues chose volunteers from countries around Europe and Asia and asked them to keep a food journal. Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used in product packaging such as lids and plastic bottles, were the most common, found in all samples.

"Microplastics have been found in tap water, bottled water, fish, and mussel tissue and even in beer", he told the Independent. "Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health".

That difference can be made by reducing use of single-use plastic items and prioritizing the use of items that can be recycled and composted, among other actions, Rochman said.

Microplastics usually found in the soil oceans tap and bottled water
Microplastics usually found in the soil oceans tap and bottled water

However, an estimated 150 million tons of plastic are floating in the world's oceans, with an additional 8 million tons entering every year, according to the World Economic Forum.

In diaries kept by the participants the week before submitting a sample, researchers found they were all exposed to plastic-wrapped food or drinks in plastic bottles. But research into its effects on human health are limited, Ruairi Robertson, a postdoctoral researcher in studies of the gut at the University of British Columbia, said by phone. 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. But we now know that it is not less unsafe plastic is for the human body. Six of them had eaten fish. Researchers finally got down to testing human excreta and they did find microplastics in human stools.

"Personally, I did not expect that each sample would test positive", said Philipp Schwabl, lead researcher on the study. The amount of plastics found were 20 particles of microplastics per 10 grams of stool sample.

It is also highly likely during various steps of food processing or as a result of packaging food is being contaminated with plastics, said Dr Schwabl. The microplastics found were between 50 and 500 micrometres in size.

For Stephanie Wright, a researcher at King's College London, the real question is whether plastics are accumulating in the human body.

Scientists have already found microplastics in our oceans, with consumption by fish causing big problems in the food chain. In the ocean, tiny pieces of plastic flow through the food chain in tuna, lobster, shrimp, and other animals. According to Dr. Herbert Tilg, president of the Austrian Society of Gastroenterology and chair of the UEG Scientific Committee, microplastics could possibly be one of the factors contributing to inflammatory bowel syndrome or even colon cancer, which is on the rise among young adults. Founder of a British Organic food company Guy Singh-Watson told BBC news that the public's tunnel vision over recycling could even be risky. Which, if one thinks about it, only makes sense since we're eating and drinking them.


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