Nepal | August 14, 2020

Microplastics turning up in human stool

Reuters
Share Now:

Tiny bits of plastic may be getting into our bodies via the air we breathe and the food we eat, a new study suggests.

Researchers who examined stool samples from eight people from diverse geographic locations found that all contained bits of plastic, according to a report in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“This small prospective case series showed that various microplastics were present in human stool, and no sample was free of microplastics,” wrote the team of scientists, led by Dr Philipp Schwabl of the Medical University of Vienna. “Larger studies are needed to validate these findings. Moreover, research on the origins of microplastics ingested by humans, potential intestinal absorption, and effects on human health is urgently needed.”

The researchers did not respond to an emailed request for an interview.

To get an idea of how widespread plastic ingestion might be, Schwabl and his colleagues rounded up eight volunteers who were willing to keep a food diary for a week and then submit a stool sample for analysis.

The study volunteers came from around the globe: Japan, Russia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Finland and Austria. Their food diaries showed that all had possible plastic exposure via food wrappers and bottles. None of the volunteers were vegetarians. Six of the eight had consumed ocean-going fish.

The stool samples were tested at the Environment Agency Austria for 10 types of plastic with a newly developed analytical procedure. As many as nine different plastics, with pieces ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometres, were found in the stool samples. The most common plastics found were polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate. The samples contained, on average, 20 microplastic particles per 10g of stool.

The particles were mostly shaped as fragments and films and rarely as spheres or fibres, the researchers reported.

It’s not known where the microplastics came from or how they were ingested. But because there were different types of plastic, the researchers suspect there were multiple sources, ranging from food processing and packaging to shellfish and sea salt.

The researchers also don’t know how the bits of plastic might impact health.

“Discussion is ongoing about the potential health effects of ingested microplastics and nanoplastics, which (at least in animals) may translocate into gastrointestinal tissues or other organs and cause deleterious effects,” they noted.

While the new study shows that the bits of ingested plastic can be detected, “it gives no insight into health implications,” said Jennifer Adibi, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

It does shine a light on a different way of looking at the impact of plastics on health, Adibi said. “Until now we have been focused on measuring and studying the health effects of the chemicals in plastics,” she added. “Now we need to extend that thinking to include the intact particles of plastics. It seems the mechanisms could go beyond the cell, and involve effects on tissue matrices, including cell membranes.”

At some point, Adibi said, “we need to understand if particles in poop are correlated with particles in our target tissues—the liver, brain, reproductive organs, fetuses, placentas.”


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Pandemic and State: How is state accountable?

COVID-19 Global Lens The COVID-19 pandemic presents the world with a huge challenge: everyone and every area is affected, and the response has to be both quick and consorted. This pandemic may be primarily a health crisis for some states, but COVID-19 is also an education crisis, an employment an Read More...

Ministry of Urban Development

Government updates National Building Code

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 12 The Government of Nepal has updated the National Building Code by incorporating it into all structural designs that are necessary to make buildings, both small and large, earthquake-resistant in the country. With the recent approval of the Council of Ministers, the ‘NBC Read More...

Int’l Youth Day marked by holding virtual programmes

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 12 The International Youth Day was commemorated around the world today, including in Nepal, by organising various youth related events. In Nepal, the day was observed around the theme, ‘Youths’ Engagement for Employment Promotion and Environment Conservation’. The event Read More...

‘End political interference in BPKIHS’

DHARAN, AUGUST 12 Nepali Congress-aligned Tarun Dal and Nepal Student Union staged a demonstration in Dharan today seeking the fulfilment of demands, including a halt to the Senate meeting of BP Koirala Institute of Health and Sciences. Demonstrating in front of the institute’s main gate, th Read More...

Nawalparasi map

Paper mill in Nawalparasi resumes operation

NAWALPARASI, AUGUST 12 A paper factory at Madhyabindu Municipality in the district has resumed operation following a halt of two years. Established in 2018, the industry named Quality Paper Industries Pvt Ltd makes use of paper waste and local raw materials, said Suresh Kumar Gupta, chairperso Read More...

Kailali witnessing gradual loss of forests

GODAVARI, AUGUST 12 Forests are shrinking every year in Kailali due to increasing encroachment. The under-construction Rani-Jamara-Kulariya Irrigation Project, Khutiya-Dipayal Fast Track, Seti Highway and Postal Highway have contributed to loss of forests in the district. Deforestation in Bhaw Read More...

Female inmates of Nepalgunj prison sent to Bardiya and Dailekh

NEPALGUNJ, AUGUST 12 Following the confirmation of COVID-19 in some inmates, Nepalgunj prison administration in Banke has shifted its female inmates to other districts. At a time when concerns are being heard about the number of inmates exceeding the capacity of the prison, the prison administ Read More...

‘Manage uranium mines properly’

MYAGDI, AUGUST 12 Experts have drawn the government’s attention to lack of seriousness in managing uranium deposits discovered in different regions, including in Mustang and Chure. At a virtual interaction ‘Nuclear science and society’ organised by Nepal Russian Science Society in coordi Read More...