Oh, no. This is not good. A new study tested feces samples of participants and discovered that 100% of the participants had microplastics in their samples. Not only are the plastics a potential risk to health, but also the additives in the plastics which as we have reported here numerous times, are endocrine disruptors (synthetic chemicals that disrupt hormones) and have been linked with health conditions like IBD.
People are pooping plastic: Plastic and the endocrine-disrupting additives in the plastic present potential for serious health conditions
The world produces about 400 million metric tons of plastic a year, the equivalent of 882 billion pounds, and 80 percent ends up deposited in landfills and other parts of the environment. The smallest particles, the microplastics, range from 10 nanometers — so tiny they are invisible to the human eye — up to to 5 millimeters in diameter. Microplastics — including microfibers from clothing — are floating in the air, and are found in most of our bottled and tap water, our beer, our sea, rock and lake salt, and our soil.
Researchers from the Environment Agency Austria and the Medical University of Vienna followed eight healthy volunteers from different parts of the world (Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom and Austria). The participants kept a diary of the food and drink they consumed for a week. Then, researchers tested their stool for 10 different types of plastics.
In the study, which is the first of its kind, each person ate their regular diet and kept a food diary in the week leading up to their stool sampling. All participants were exposed to plastics by consuming foods that had been wrapped in plastic as well as beverages in plastic bottles. None of the participants were vegetarians and six of them consumed wild fish.
Small plastic pieces known as microplastics were found in stool samples of every participant in a small pilot study presented this week at a prestigious global gastroenterology conference.
Nine different types of plastics were found in the samples, according to the study. An average of 20 microplastic particles measuring between 50 and 500 micrometers were found per 10 grams of stool.
Potential Health Concerns
Not only is the potential migration of the plastics throughout our body a concern, but the additives in plastics may carry health risks. Many of these additives are known endocrine disrupters. According to Dr. Herbert Tilg, president of the Austrian Society of Gastroenterology and chair of the UEG Scientific Committee, microplastics could possibly be one of the factors contributing to inflammatory bowel syndrome or even colon cancer, which is on the rise among young adults.
Other health concerns
“We know from the scientific literature that anything smaller than 150 microns, and especially anything smaller than 50 microns, can migrate through the gut wall and go into the blood cells and organs.” -Dr. Chelsea Rochman, ecologist, University of Toronto
“The concern is whether microplastics might be entering the blood stream, lymphatic system and … even reach the liver.”
–Dr. Philipp Schwabl, lead researcher the Medical University of Vienna
How the plastic is entering our bodies
Several studies have suggested how microplastics could be finding their way inside human guts…
“Recent studies have found plastics in seafood, wildlife, tap water, and now in salt. It’s clear that there is no escape from this plastics crisis, especially as it continues to leak into our waterways and oceans.”
Mikyoung Kim, campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia in a statement, following a study published earlier this month revealing 90 percent of the sea salt sold globally contain microplastics.
Another study published earlier this year examining 259 water bottles from brands sold across nine countries found that 93 percent were contaminated with microplastics. Even some tap water has tested positive for tiny plastic particles.
While there is no way to completely avoid exposure to plastics, microplastics and the potentially dangerous additives inside them, exposure can be minimized.
-Avoid consuming water in plastic bottles
-Avoid processed foods wrapped in plastic
-Never heat your food in the microwave inside plastic containers–also place the food on a glass plate
-Do not consume water from plastic bottles that have been exposed to the sun/heat
-Avoid storing food in plastic bowls/containers–always store food in glass containers