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Microplastics detected for the first time in our lungs

A few weeks ago, a team of Dutch researchers identified microplastics in human blood for the first time. A new study published in the journal Science of The Total Environment indicates today that these particles are also present in our lungs (source 1).

“Microplastics have already been found in autopsy samples from human cadavers – these are the first robust study to show microplastics in the lungs of living people,” said Laura Sadofsky, lead author of the study (source 2).

Polyprene, PET… Nearly 39 microplastics detected

Researchers from the University of Hull and the Hull York Medical School have taken from lung tissue from patients who were to undergo a medical procedure. In total, the study revealed a wide diversity of microplastics: no less than 39 microplastics, identified in 11 of the 13 lung tissue samples tested.

Among the most common were polyprene (used in packaging, food containers and plastic pipes) and PETs (present in the bottles). In detail, the particle size reached 0.003 millimeter and microplastic levels were higher in men than in women.

“We didn’t expect to find the greatest number of particles in the lower regions of the lungs, or particles of the size we found,” Laura Sadofsky said. And to conclude:

This is surprising because the airways are smaller in the lower parts of the lungs and we would have expected particles of these sizes to be filtered out or trapped before reaching this depth.

And to conclude: “These data constitute an important step forward in the field of air pollution, microplastics and human health”.

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