SEP 04, 2019 7:30 AM PDT

Microplastics are Everywhere, Including Human Stool

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Microplastics have infiltrated the planet, from remote mountain regions to the deepest parts of the ocean. Because of the extensive reach of these microscopic pollutants via air, water, or the food chain, scientists are exploring the origins of and quantity of microplastics entering human bodies. Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria recently conducted a study examining human stool samples for microplastics. Their peer-reviewed paper was published in Annals of Internal Medicine yesterday. 

The video below was created earlier this year when initial research results were released. 

The objective of the study was simple—to examine human stool samples for the presence of microplastics, which were likely accidentally ingested. According to Reuters, eight volunteers were asked to keep a food diary for a week and then submit a stool sample to the research team. The volunteers were from Japan, Russia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Finland, and Austria. Diary entries showed six of the eight volunteers consumed fish, none were vegetarians, and all eight subjects were exposed to plastic through food wrappers or bottles.

Of the eight samples examined, all of them tested positive with a median of 20 microplastics in each 10-gram sample. Nine different types of plastic were identified. The two most common type of plastic identified in the samples were polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate, which are two of the most common types of plastic used worldwide.

The research team acknowledges their small sample size, with only eight participants each contributing one stool sample. In the peer-review publication, the team states: “Larger studies are needed to validate these findings. Moreover, research on the origins of microplastics ingested by human, potential intestinal absorption, and effects on human health is urgently needed.”

 

Sources: Annals Abstract, Annals Article, Reuters

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
JUL 10, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Gut Pathogen Linked to Reactive Arthritis
JUL 10, 2020
Gut Pathogen Linked to Reactive Arthritis
When bacteria escape from the gastrointestinal tract, they can cause serious health problems.
JUL 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
The Smell of Rotten Fish Could Help Predict the Recovery of Unresponsive Patients
JUL 14, 2020
The Smell of Rotten Fish Could Help Predict the Recovery of Unresponsive Patients
A study published in the journal Nature provides new evidence supporting an unconventional test to map recovery paths of ...
JUL 12, 2020
Cardiology
A Beneficial Microbe Can Reduce the Risk of Artery Disease
JUL 12, 2020
A Beneficial Microbe Can Reduce the Risk of Artery Disease
Trillions of microbes call our bodies home, and the ones that live in the gut can have a powerful impact on human health ...
JUL 23, 2020
Cardiology
Protecting the Heart After a Heart Attack
JUL 23, 2020
Protecting the Heart After a Heart Attack
Cardiovascular disease accounts for thirty percent of mortalities around the world. These diseases start small and slowl ...
JUL 30, 2020
Immunology
Gene Silencing Therapy Stops the Itch of Psoriasis
JUL 30, 2020
Gene Silencing Therapy Stops the Itch of Psoriasis
A team of Harvard researchers has identified a promising new approach for treating psoriasis — a topical lotion co ...
JUL 31, 2020
Cancer
Using Electric Fields to Treat Brain Cancer
JUL 31, 2020
Using Electric Fields to Treat Brain Cancer
One of the great things about research is its creativity, which can lead to interesting experiments, odd but impactful i ...
Loading Comments...