The inevitable has happened. Microplastics have already been found in birds and fish and whales, so it should have come as no surprise that they have now been discovered in humans. To be specific but indelicate, tiny plastic particles and fibers have been found in the stool of eight Europeans who provided samples as part of a pilot study.
This news confirms the predictions of researchers who have tracked microplastics to remote locations, and identified these tiny particles in drinking water, beer, table salt, and seafood. But the implications in this particular case remain unclear.
The fact that this is the first documentation of such materials in humans is significant. Yet such a small survey can’t begin to answer the unknowns that hang over the science of microplastics: Where precisely did these plastic fragments originate? And what are the potential risks to human health?
Food packaging can shed small fibers. So can household carpeting, clothing, and other plastic-based items that populate our everyday lives. Could the fibers in the stool have come from airborne dust that fell onto the study participants’ food before they consumed it?
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