Quantcast
Connect with us

Activists demand bolder efforts to address pollution after scientists find microplastics in human organs

Published

on

Handfuls of microplastics litter found during a 5 Gyres cleanup. (image: 5 Gyres)

“The best way to tackle the problem is to massively reduce the amount of plastic that’s being made and used.”

Bolstering activists’ demands to reduce plastic pollution worldwide, Arizona State University scientists on Monday presented their research on finding micro- and nanoplastics in human organs to the American Chemical Society.

ADVERTISEMENT

Greenpeace U.K. responded to the reporting on the study by calling to “massively” reduce the amount of plastic produced and used worldwide.

Microplastics are plastics that are less than five millimeters in diameter and nanoplastics are less than 0.001 millimeters in diameter. Both are broken down bits of larger plastic pieces that were dumped into the environment. According to PlasticsEurope.org, 359 million tons of plastic was produced globally in 2019.

Previous research has shown that people could be eating a credit card’s worth of plastic a day; a study published in 2019 suggests humans eat, drink, and breathe almost 74,000 microplastic particles a year. Microplastics have been found in places ranging from the tallest mountains in the world to the depths of the Mariana TrenchPlastic particles in wildlife have been shown to substantially harm entire ecosystems, especially marine organisms.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Arizona State University scientists developed and tested a new method to identify dozens of plastics in human tissue that could eventually be used to collect global data on microplastic pollution and its impact on people. To test the technique, the scientists used 47 tissue samples from lung, liver, spleen, and kidney samples collected from a tissue bank. Researchers then added particles to the samples and found they could detect microplastics in every sample.

These specific tissues were used because these organs are the most likely to be exposed to, filter, or collect plastics in the human body. Because the samples were taken from a tissue bank, scientists also were able to analyze the donors’ lifestyles including environmental and occupational exposures.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” Rolf Halden, a scientist on the team, told The Guardian. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible—these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles … This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The researchers found bisphenol A (BPA) in all 47 samples and were also able to detect polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—a chemical used in plastic drink bottles and shopping bags. They also found and analyzed polycarbonate (PC) and polyethylene (PE). These particles can end up in human bodies through the air or by consuming wildlife like seafood that has eaten plastic; or by consuming other foods with trace amounts of plastic from packaging.

The team also developed a computer program that converts the collected data on plastic particle count into units of mass and area.

ADVERTISEMENT

“In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat,” Charles Rolsky, a member of the team, said in a press release. “There’s evidence that plastic is making its way into our bodies, but very few studies have looked for it there. And at this point, we don’t know whether this plastic is just a nuisance or whether it represents a human health hazard.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Arizona Republican likens Trump’s loss to Japan getting nuked while losing WW II — but as a good thing

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Monday allowed President-elect Joe Biden's transition to proceed -- while vowing he would never concede.

Despite Trump losing the election, some Trump supporters are refusing to accept the outcome.

One Arizona Republican in Congress, Paul Gosar, drew upon the historical knowledge him learned on his way to becoming a dentist in a bizarre analogy he posted on Twitter.

Gosar suggested the Trump movement would be like an Imperial Japanese soldier in World War II who refused to surrender until 1974.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Neal Katyal predicts law schools will teach a ‘Worst Mistakes in Court’ class on Trump’s ‘pathetic’ 20-day fiasco

Published

on

Prominent lawyer Neal Katyal is best known for having tried over 40 cases before the United States Supreme Court and serving as acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration.

But he also has spent more than two decades as a law professor at Georgetown.

He drew upon all of that experience for a Monday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

"Someday a law school class is going to be called 'The Worst Mistakes in Court' -- and it will be just about these 20 days," Katyal predicted. "Because this legal strategy is so pathetic it makes Trump's coronavirus strategy look competent by contrast."

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Trump vows he ‘will never concede’ — in 11 pm conspiracy-filled rant

Published

on

Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential to President-elect Joe Biden, but is still refusing to concede.

White House aides reportedly convinced him to allow Biden to begin his transition by telling him he did not need to use the word "concede."

But that word appeared to be on his mind late Monday night.

"What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?" Trump asked while continuing to lie about the election being corrupt.

Continue Reading