Microplastics in human body great risk to health: Research

Published: June 09, 2018 00:44:02


Many of the microplastics in human body come from the air inhaled, according to a research, reports BSS.

 It may cause a wide range of diseases including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer.

This was disclosed in an article of World Economic Forum (WEF).

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year.

 Half of that plastic becomes trash in less than a year.

Out of the plastics produced, only nine per cent is recycled.

The remaining 91per cent remains in air, land and water as waste. Through inhaling, plastic particles end up in our lungs.

They stay in the lung tissue or enter the bloodstream as the body is not able to rid itself of the tiny pieces of plastic.

Babies who crawl on the floor are the most vulnerable.

They are generally at risk as their respiratory systems are on developing stage.

The article written by Kevin Luo on 'Particle Deposition in the Human Respiratory System' revealed the findings.

Concentration of airborne microplastics is higher in indoor air.

The research found microplastics have been found in both indoor and outdoor air.

However, its concentration in indoor air is higher than that of outdoors, according to research presented in 2018 by Ecole Nationales des Ponts et Chauss,es.

Microplastics in the indoor air result from the fragmentation through friction, heat or light of plastic objects found in our homes.

These include toys, furniture, plastic bags, cosmetics, toothpaste and scrubs.

Showering with a body scrub alone may flush 100,000 microplastic beads into the wastewater and the air, says the Environmental Audit Committee in Britain.

The committee banned microplastics use in January 2018, following the lead of the US, Canada and New Zealand.

The majority of microplastics found in the indoor air, however, come from plastic fibers released from synthetic clothing and textiles used in home furnishings.

These microplastic fibres tend to be longer and therefore more harmful when inhaled.

Today, synthetic materials, such as acrylic, nylon, polyester, make up some 60 per cent of global textile production.

While washing these textiles, microplastic fibres are released and end up in the wastewater due to lack of good filtration.

Washing a fleece jacket, for instance, releases up to 250,000 microplastic fibres into wastewater.

A 2016 study by the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara unveiled that data.

Sadly, most wastewater treatment facilities do not have filters to remove microplastics from so-called 'treated' water either, it said.

According to the study, the full health effects of breathing microplastics are not yet entirely understood. But research proves that the threat to human health is high.

Once inhaled, these tiny particles go into the deep lungs where they may induce lesions in the respiratory systems.

The smallest particles can also pass into the bloodstream and cause cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, the study mentioned.

Microplastics cause cancer and affects the human immune and nervous system.

Microplastics found in lung tissue indicate that the body is not able to rid itself of all particles.

Airborne microplastics may also carry other toxic pollutants found in the air, from bacteria to traffic emissions, into the bloodstream from the lungs.

Children are more active and breathe more rapidly than adults, taking in more air in comparison to their body weights.

This makes them more vulnerable.  Children are also more at risk as their respiratory system are still developing, the research found.

Babies and toddlers spend more time playing on the floor, where microplastics settle in the form of dust.

Moreover, small children play with plastic toys and may even chew on those, putting them at a higher risk.

Researchers studying Tehran's urban dust found that children may swallow as many as 3,200 plastic particles a year.

A baby's first exposure to these particles may, however, already take place before birth, as microplastics have been found in the placenta.

More research is needed to better understand the impact of airborne pollution on human health.

In December 2017, the United Nations signed a resolution to stop the flow of plastic waste into the oceans.

Its next - and perhaps greater - challenge is to persuade member nations to sign a new resolution to stop the flow of plastic waste into the air.

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