Tiny plastic particles in human stool show extent of contamination

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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 United Kingdom and Austria.

"Of particular concerns is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases", said Schwabl. This week, researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and Environment Agency Austria announced they have found microplastics - particles of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters - in stool samples from each one of their human test subjects. Each person kept a food diary in the week leading up to their stool sampling. Among the plastics they identified, there were polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as the most prevalent microplastics.

Microplastics have been found in seafood, bottled water, and even the air.

More research is needed to determine the impact of microplastics on human health, but the research team believes they may affect the immune response of our gut and that toxic plastics, like BPA, could interfere with hormones.

"We need urgent action from governments to massively reduce plastic use and ensure any we do use, which must be essential, is captured and properly recycled".

DESIREE MARTIN via Getty Images Microplastic particles have been found in human waste for the first time. 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.

Microplastics have been making their way into the diets of people in countries across the world, according to a scientific study. "Most participants drank liquids from plastic bottles, but also fish and seafood ingestion was common". None of the participants were vegetarians and six of them consumed wild fish.

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Reference Assessment of microplastics concentrations in human stool - Preliminary results of a prospective study - Philipp Schwabl, Bettina Liebmann, Sebastian Köppel, Philipp Königshofer, Theresa Bucsics, Michael Trauner, Thomas Reiberger, presented in the scope of the UEG Week 2018 in Vienna on 24 October 2018. Swabi has said that now that they have the ability to detect microplastics in stool a much larger study can be performed.

The study, which was the first of its kind, was very small-the researchers, from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria, only studied stool samples from eight participants. Because of these multiple plastic, the researchers can not identify the source of the ingested plastic for sure, Schwabl says: "Through pollution, 2 to 5 % of all plastics produced end up in the seas".

Others have noted that the microplastics are still too large to be absorbed into the body, but the chemical toxins the plastics absorb may leach out.

It confirms fears raised when Sky launched its Ocean Rescue campaign almost two years ago, which raised the possibility that microplastics eaten by seafood and fish would end up in the food chain.

Up to nine different kinds of plastics were detected, ranging in size from.002 to.02 inches. They are cosmopolitan in nature and have been even discovered in deep-sea sediments over three miles underneath the ocean surface, in Arctic sea ice, and on Swiss mountains.

Plastic is everywhere. It's in our food, our land, our seas-and even in our beer. "They've definitively established what so many of us suspected - we're ingesting these plastics".

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