Bits of plastic found in feces of people in Japan and Europe, showing that plastic has entered the human food chain
Japan Times -- Oct 24
Bits of plastic have been detected in the feces of people in Europe, Russia and Japan, according to research claiming to show for the first time the widespread presence of plastics in the human food chain.

All eight volunteers in a small pilot study were found to have passed several types of plastic, with an average of 20 micro-particles per 10 grams of stool, researchers reported Tuesday at a gastroenterology congress in Vienna.

The scientists speculated that the tiny specks — ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometers — may have been ingested via seafood, food wrapping, dust or plastic bottles.

A human hair is roughly 50 to 100 micrometers in width.

“In our laboratory, we were able to detect nine different types of plastics,” said Bettina Liebmann, a researcher at the Federal Environment Agency, which analyzed the samples.

The two most common were polypropylene — found in bottle caps, rope and strapping — and polyethylene, present in drinking bottles and textile fibres.

Together with polystyrene (utensils, cups, coolers) and polyethylene (plastic bags), they accounted for more than 95 percent of the particles detected.

“We were unable to establish a reliable connection between nutritional behavior and exposure to microplastics,” said lead author Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna.

In earlier studies on animals, the highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the stomach and intestines, but smaller amounts have also been detected in blood, lymph and the liver.

News source: Japan Times
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