The (Almost) Invisible Enemy: Microplastics Found In Human Blood

by Megan Kioulafofski
microplastics found in human blood

Recently, a concerning material called “microplastic” has been found in human blood. Researchers in the Netherlands studied blood from donors, which revealed that 80% of them had microplastics in their blood. According to the researchers, people’s constant exposure to plastic particles in the air leads to their absorption into the bloodstream.

What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are fragments of plastic measuring less than 5mm in length. They usually come from bigger pieces of plastic that have worn down like plastic bags, drink bottles, food wrappers, and the like.

However, a common source of these particles is clothing, specifically those made from synthetic fibers like acrylic, nylon, and polyester. Through daily wear and regular washing, microplastics from the fabric are released into the air, water sources, and land.

More alarmingly, microplastics are even found in food and water sources. Since they are released into the environment, microplastics can land on food crops, raw ingredients like water or salt, and even animals that people consume. They are also found in food materials like packaging and utensils, especially after heating, cutting, or shaking these items.

The Effects Of Microplastics On The Human Body

Some microplastics can be seen by the naked eye, while others can only be seen through a microscope. As a result, it is more difficult to spot them.

Microplastics enter the body through food consumption and inhalation. It has been found that microplastics in the human blood can cause cell death, allergic reactions, and damage to cell walls. The body has a natural process wherein it kills cells as a defense mechanism. However, cell deaths and cell wall damage caused by microplastics can lead to inflammation. Meanwhile, allergic reactions caused by microplastics can lead to the body’s release of histamine. Histamine is what causes allergy symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose.

In 2020, a study on microplastics’ effect on the body suggests that these can also damage the immune system and its functions, which may be related to the development of various diseases like cancer. This study only makes the issue revolving around microplastics more serious since they can lead to life-threatening diseases.

How Can We Prevent Microplastics From Getting In Our Blood?

Because they are so small, microplastics found in human blood may also carry heavy metals and other toxins from the environment. And since the damaging effects of microplastics have been established, it is much more crucial now to avoid their entrance into the body. Though these tiny plastic particles are almost invisible to the eye at times, there are still ways to avoid them.

The first is to buy clothing made with more sustainable materials. This is one of the practices that sustainable consumers usually observe since sustainable fabrics do not have microplastics in them. When washed or worn, these do not release any plastic particles into the environment. Sustainable fabrics in the market today are hemp, cotton (recycled cotton is even better), linen, and wool. Make sure to buy clothes made from these materials to avoid microplastics from entering your system.

Another thing you should do is to stop using plastic products. As previously mentioned, even food packaging and utensils can contribute to microplastic ingestion. To start your plastic-free journey, bring reusable bags when you go to the store and at home, store your fruits and veggies in freshie food saver bags. When you’re ready to throw out your plastic produce bags, compost them! Plastic bags can’t really break down in a landfill and could take up to 1000 years to decompose.

Also, make it a habit to use and bring with you a reusable jug to avoid having to buy bottled water. Lastly, though plastic containers are convenient, replace them with glassware when they wear out. Glass is more durable, so you’ll be able to use them for much longer compared to plastic.

Microplastics found in human blood can cause serious harm to the body. As soon as possible, there should be a collective effort made in order to reduce their release into the environment for a better and healthier world.

To learn more about plastic pollution and how to reduce the amount of plastic in your daily life, follow our blog. At the end of the day, it’s up to each and every one of us to make a difference and reduce plastic pollution. By taking small steps like using a reusable cotton bag instead of plastic ones, we can all make a big impact towards a healthier and safer planet for future generations.

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