Sunday January 20, 2019

Microplastics Found In 100 Percent Of Humans Studied: Research

Plastic is apparently showing up in all of us

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Microplastics, plastic, EU
Plastic bottles and other plastics, including a mop, lie washed up on the bank of the River Thames in London, Britian. VOA

In the first study of its kind, Austrian researchers have tracked the movement of microplastics into human beings. The results show that the plastic that is a ubiquitous element of human life is now also a constant element in the human body.

The research was presented at this week at UEG Week in Vienna, Austria, the largest gastroenterology meeting in Europe.

Follow the plastics

Two Austrian researchers, Dr. Philipp Schwabl from the Medical University of Vienna, and Dr. Bettina Liebmann, from the Environment Agency Austria, studied participants from countries including Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the UK and Austria.

Microplastics are particles of plastic less than 5 mm in size. They are often tiny plastic beads that are put in cosmetic products. A few nations, including the U.S., the UK and South Korea, have banned microbeads. But microplastics also are created when larger pieces of plastic break down over time, and plastic in general is everywhere. The U.N. estimates that about 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. And the World Economic Forum estimated that Americans threw away over 33 million metric tons of plastic in 2014.

Microplastics
Courtesy – Philipp Schwabl. VOA

But this study, which was small, suggests that plastic, whether it’s bad for us or not, is already in all of us.

Study participants were asked to keep a food diary for seven days prior to taking part in the test. Then they turned over stool samples to the researchers who then looked for microplastics.

And they found them. Every single stool sample tested positive for the presence of microplastic, and up to nine different plastic types were identified.

Where is the plastic coming from? In the cases of this study, the plastic that showed up in people is associated with eating plastic wrapped foods, and drinking from plastic bottles. But most of the participants also ate fish, so Schwabl says that right now, “no exact conclusion on plastic origin can be made” on exactly where the plastic is coming from. Future studies should narrow that down.

Microplastics
Courtesy – Philipp Schwabl. VOA

What is it doing to us?

So is all that plastic making us sick? Schwabl says, for now, there are no definitive studies that suggest a danger to humans. But he says that in “animal studies, it has been shown that microplastics may cause intestinal damage, remodeling of the intestinal villi, distortion of iron absorption and hepatic stress.”

And the concern is “what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases,” Schwabl says. “While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the blood stream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver.”

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He was surprised, he says, to find that plastic is apparently showing up in all of us, and he expects the amount collecting in our bodies to keep increasing, unless the world drastically changes its use of plastic. (VOA)

Next Story

Actors Ajay, Kajol Support Initiative to Turn Plastic ‘Fantastic’

"We can utilise the waste metrical for recycled product and our 'Plastic Banega Fantastic' is an initiative to show how."

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Ajay, Kajol support initiative to turn plastic 'fantastic'. Wikimedia Commons

Actors Ajay Devgan and Kajol on Saturday urged people to segregate plastic from daily garbage in a way that it can be utilised to make a recycled product.

The couple came together to support an initiative taken by Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) at the Mahim Creek. As part of HUL’s “Start a Little Good”, a plastic collection drive named “Plastic Banega Fantastic” has begun.

Talking about how effective recycling plastic could be, Kajol said: “We will be giving fishing nets to fisherfolks, and those are made out of recycled plastic… We will give them a park bench that is made out of recycled plastic and many such things. Basically, the idea is to show them products that we can make out of recycled plastic and also usable for daily life.”

“When they see what you can do in a productive manner to segregate plastics out of daily days, people will hopefully take the step seriously,” added the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai actress.

Asked if the government’s Swachch Bharat initiative is bringing any visible change in the surroundings, Ajay said: “We have a large population and it takes time to change people’s habits. There are people who throw garbage everywhere and with constant talks, people will become aware of how such things are harming the planet.”

As parents, Ajay and Kajol both believe that bringing little changes can create a big difference in children’s lives and that is how they can bring about a change in the future generation.

Kajol Devgan
Kajol Devgan, flickr

Any special things they teach their two children?

Ajay said: “Small things like not wasting water, switching off the light and all electric gadgets when it’s not used. At times kids just waste tissue papers just for fun, and I keep saying not to do that. From their childhood, if we can inculcate these habits in them, it will become a part of their lifestyle.

“Like my son carries a steal tiffin box instead of plastic. We use steel bottles and straw instead of plastic… I know these are very small thing, but as Ajay says these things slowly but surely change the big picture. These things will make them much responsible citizens of the world,” said Kajol.

Also Read- Kerala Government Decides to Revise The List of Women Who Prayed at Sabarimala

The event saw a a beach cleaning session by Ajay and Kajol along with popular radio jockey Malishka Mendonsa.

On the initiative, HUL Chairman Sanjiv Mehta told IANS: “While the invention of plastic is great, the problem started with its waste, used material. Since we all are using plastic and it is an integral part of our life, as people, we have to use it responsibly.

“We can utilise the waste metrical for recycled product and our ‘Plastic Banega Fantastic’ is an initiative to show how.” (IANS)