FunNature & AnimalYour poop also has microplastics

Your poop also has microplastics

A group of researchers from the Austrian Environment Agency and the Vienna Medical University have found evidence that microplastics (microscopic remains of plastic, fibers …) accumulate in human feces.

The experts analyzed stool samples from eight participants from Italy, Japan, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom, Finland and Austria . The evidence was overwhelming: These tiny plastic particles are seemingly everywhere – we’ve found microplastics in the ocean, in tap water, in bottled water, on the ground, and now, too, in our poop.

This is the first study of its kind, but “it confirms what we have long suspected, that plastics have finally reached the human gut ,” study lead author Philipp Schwabl, a medical scientist with the Division of Medicine, said in a statement. Gastroenterology and Hepatology from the Medical University of Vienna (Austria).

Little is known about the health effects of microplastics, but there is concern that widespread plastics could affect our gastrointestinal health and possibly reach other organs.

“Now that we have the first evidence of microplastics within humans, we need more research to understand what this means for human health, ” Schwabl said. The results of the study were presented at the United European Gastronenterology Week hosted by Vienna.

Microplastic contamination

Microplastics are pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters long, about the size of a sesame seed or even smaller. They are formed after the decomposition of large pieces of plastic pollution. As we have already seen, microplastics can end up in the oceans, where the particles are ingested by aquatic life and enter the food chain. In fact, microplastics have been detected in shellfish, including tuna, lobster, and shrimp. And it’s likely that humans are also exposed to microplastics as a result of plastic contamination from food packaging or processing.



Still, data on human exposure to microplastics is still sparse, and the new study is the first to quantify the particles in human feces.

To analyze the stool samples, the experts used a new procedure that helped them identify microplastics in each and every one of the stool samples received.

The most common types of plastic found were polypropylene and polyethylene (ethylene terephthalate), two plastics that have a wide range of uses, including plastic bottles. On average, the researchers detected 20 microplastic particles for every 10 grams of stool.

The participants’ food diaries showed that six of them consumed fish in the week before giving the stool sample, and all participants ate some food wrapped in plastic or drank from plastic bottles.

The researchers plan to conduct a larger study to confirm the findings and see if they can identify factors related to microplastics in feces, such as a person’s diet, lifestyle, or where they live. We are also interested in examining their effects on human health, as microplastics can cause damage to the intestines and affect the way the body absorbs nutrients, the authors state.

Reference: Microplastics discovered in human stools across the globe in ‘first study of its kind’. ASSESSMENT OF MICROPLASTIC CONCENTRATIONS IN HUMAN STOOL – PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF A PROSPECTIVE STUDY. Schwabl P., Liebmann B., Köppel S., Königshofer P., Bucsics T., Trauner M., Reiberger T. 1 Medical University of Vienna, Div. Of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dept. of Internal Medicine III, Vienna, Austria, Environment Agency Austria, Testing Laboratory for Environmental Analysis, GMO and Fuel Analysis, Vienna, Austria. United European Gastronenterology Week.

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