Do you realise that you have microplastics in your lungs?

People are often unaware that they are breathing in microplastics and that these minute plastic particles are lodged in the deepest recesses of their lungs. Micro-plastics are everywhere. You can go to the most remote part of the world and find microplastics. The whole planet pretty well is infested with tiny plastic particles but it seems that people are not fully aware of this problem and neither is the government doing enough about it.


Microplastic particles. Image: Getty.

It affects people and animals. A study published in Science of the Total Environment found that the lungs of living people contained a variety of micro-plastics. In previous studies they found micro-plastics in dead bodies but this, apparently, is the first time that lung tissue has been removed from living people in certain procedures which has allowed the scientists to see whether micro-plastics are contained in this body tissue.

Laura Sadofsky, the lead author on the scientific report said:

“Microplastics have previously been found in human cadaver autopsy samples; this is the first robust study to show microplastics in lungs from live people.

“It also shows that they are in the lower parts of the lung. Lung airways are very narrow so no-one thought they could possibly get there, but they clearly have.

“This data provides an important advance in the field of air pollution, microplastics and human health.”

To that statement you can add animal health, surely? We should not forget the health of animals; wild, companion and livestock.

The lung tissue came from Castle Hill Hospital in East Yorkshire. Surgeons provided the lung tissue which was removed as part of routine medical care. It was filtered to isolate the plastics. There were 12 different types of plastics all of which are commonly found in products such as twine, rope, clothing, bottles and packaging.

They found higher levels of micro-plastics in men compared to women. And they found the plastics in the lower regions of the lungs which surprised the scientists.

They had believed that plastic particles would not be able to infiltrate those areas of the lungs. Other research had recorded high levels of atmospheric micro-plastics as a site close to a busy trunk road in the north of England.

The most common micro-plastics were polyethylene which is used in plastic packaging or carrier bags. Nylon was also common, from clothes. They also found resins which they believe come from roads such as road markings and tyre wear.

It is a warning that we should not ignore micro-plastic inhalation. It’s another toxic substance that resides within us. I’m not sure that we know whether these plastics damage our health. It seems to me that they are almost bound to because they are foreign bodies which must impair the mechanisms of metabolism and our anatomy.

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