University of São Paulo: Microplastics from pollution can contaminate blood through eating and breathing

The impact of plastic as a pollutant is already a recurring issue in environmental issues, but the presence of the component in the human body is gaining more and more relevance. For the first time, a Dutch study has detected the presence of microplastic in human blood, which reaches the body through the consumption of packaged food and contaminated animal meat, in addition to inhaling the air and water we drink, due to air pollution. material in the environment. The analysis is by the hematologist José Roberto Ortega Júnior, from the School of Medicine at the Faculty of Dentistry of Bauru (FOB) at USP.

In an international study, recently published, 22 blood samples were collected from anonymous donors, all healthy adults, and the presence of microplastic was detected in 17 samples, that is, 80% of the participants.

And, earlier this year, researchers from USP presented research results that also identified the presence of the material in the human body, this time in lung tissue, with 20 cases analyzed and 13 contaminated tissues.

In both studies, the types of plastics found were the most consumed worldwide, such as polypropylene, polyethylene and PET, used in the manufacture of plastic packaging, grocery bags and plastic bottles. The particles found ranged from 1.6 to 5.5 micrometers.

Health impacts
Recently identified, the impact on health caused by the presence of microplastic in the body “is still a question to be answered by science”, says Ortega. The hematologist says that some tests on animals have already been completed, but it is still not possible to define the consequences for human health.

Initial studies, based on studies of cell culture models, show that the presence of nylon microplastics in lung tissue can affect the development of pulmonary stem cells, harming developing lungs and the healing of the airways, says Luís Fernando Amato, postdoctoral researcher. graduate student and researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA) at USP, author of the Brazilian research.

conscious consumption
According to Amato, conscious consumption of materials such as plastics is the best short-term solution, avoiding unnecessary and single-use uses such as cups, straws and plastic bags on the market, for example. “The use of plastic in society is inevitable, but filtering this consumption in situations of real needs, avoiding waste and irregular disposal, can be the key to an improvement in the scenario of plastic pollution, whether in the environment or in the human body”, emphasizes Amato.

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