Scientists have detected for the first time microplastics lodged in the lungs of living people in a significant study, showing that we are unknowingly inhaling these potentially hazardous compounds without even realizing it. According to the findings of the new study, this could have a harmful impact on the respiratory system, resulting in serious issues.
Microplastics are small plastic fragments that are smaller than five millimeters in length, and they have been discovered all over the world, including in the oceans, mountains, and the atmosphere. These are made up of big particles of plastic waste that have degraded into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Because these minuscule particles are so small, they can readily slip past water filtering systems and wind up in the ocean, posing a hazard to aquatic life.
In 11 out of the 13 lung tissue samples analyzed, a team of scientists from Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull discovered 39 microplastics, which was the highest number of microplastics detected in any previous laboratory testing. The journal Science of the Total Environment has approved the paper for publication, and it will appear in the next issue.
“While microplastics had previously been discovered in human cadaver autopsy samples, this is the first robust investigation to demonstrate the presence of microplastics in the lungs of living individuals.”
The fact that they are located in the lower portions of the lung is also demonstrated. “Because the airways in the lungs are so thin, no one imagined that they would be able to get there, but they have,” said Dr. Laura Sadofsky, Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at Hull York Medical School and the paper’s lead author.
The research was carried out using living lung tissues obtained from surgical procedures performed on patients who were still alive as part of their usual medical care, and the results were published.
Twelve different forms of microplastics have been discovered by scientists, each of which has a wide range of applications and is widely found in packaging, bottles, clothing, rope/twine, and a variety of manufacturing processes. According to the researchers, they discovered significantly larger quantities of microplastics in male patients as compared to female patients.
In particular, we were not expecting to see such significant numbers of particles in the lower areas of the lungs, or particles of the sizes that we did. We were surprised by this because the airways in the lower sections of the lungs are smaller, and we would have anticipated particles of these sizes to be filtered out or trapped before going this far down the lungs,” Dr. Laura explained.
There were 11 microplastics found in the top region of the lungs, seven found in the middle part, and twenty-one in the bottom part, which was a “unexpected result,” according to the researchers. Researchers discovered microplastics of varying sizes and shapes that are inhalable by humans as well as other animals.
Researchers have previously discovered these microscopic plastic particles in the blood, causing widespread alarm for their health across the world. Earlier, scientists examining these microscopic particles had discovered them in the air surrounding Pic du Midi, which is located at an elevation of 2,877 meters in the French Pyrenees and is the highest point in the world.