Scientists have for the first time discovered microplastics stuck in the lungs of living people in a major study indicating that we are inhaling these dangerous substances without even knowing. The new study hints at the dangerous impact this could have on the respiratory system, causing severe problems.
Microplastics are small plastic pieces that are less than five millimeters long and have been found to be spread across oceans, mountains, and in the air. These are generated from large plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces.
r filtration systems and end up in the ocean, posing a potential threat to aquatic life.
A team of scientists from Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull found 39 microplastics in 11 of the 13 lung tissue samples tested, higher than any previous laboratory tests. The study has been accepted for publication by the journal Science of the Total Environment.
“Microplastics have previously been found in human cadaver autopsy samples – this is the first robust study to show microplastics in lungs from live people. “It also shows that they are in the lower parts of the lung. Lung airways are very narrow so no one thought they could possibly get there, but they clearly have,” said Dr. Laura Sadofsky, Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at Hull York Medical School and lead author of the paper.
Scientists have discovered 12 different types of microplastics which have many uses and are commonly found in packaging, bottles, clothing, rope/twine, and many manufacturing processes. The team said that they also found considerably higher levels of microplastics in male patients compared to females.
We did not expect to find the highest number of particles in the lower regions of the lungs, or particles of the sizes we found. This is surprising as the airways are smaller in the lower parts of the lungs, and we would have expected particles of these sizes to be filtered out or trapped before getting this deep into the lungs,” Dr. Laura said.
The study revealed the presence of 11 microplastics in the upper part of the lung, seven in the mid part, and 21 in the lower part of the lung “which was an unexpected finding.” Researchers also found microplastics of the size and shape which are inhalable by humans.
Researchers had earlier found these