We just didn’t listen. Despite all of the warning, all of the knowledge, and all of the proof, we just can’t seem to accept the truth about the way that plastic is affecting the planet. And now, new research on participants from Europe, Japan, and Russia has found that plastics aren’t just suffocating our oceans — they’re working their way into us, as well. For the first time, microplastics have been found in human stool. “Up to nine different plastics were found out of 10 varieties tested for, in particles of sizes ranging from 50 to 500 micrometres,” the Guardian reports. “Polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate were the plastics most commonly found. On average, 20 particles of microplastic were found in each 10g of excreta. Microplastics are defined as particles of less than 5mm, with some created for use in products such as cosmetics but also by the breaking down of larger pieces of plastic, often in the sea.”
Although it was a small study, the results led the researchers to predict that around 50 percent of us would probably have microplastic in our stool — which is, well, tough to palate. The researchers stressed that this discovery was especially relevant to those who struggle with gastrointestinal diseases, though the consequences could go much further.
We’ve just got back from Malaysia, where we found plastic waste from UK recycling bins strewn around illegal dumps. Obviously, that’s not where it’s supposed to be. Here’s how we found out.
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— Unearthed (@UE) October 22, 2018
“The smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, and may even reach the liver,” one of the study authors explained. “Now that we have the first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health.” At the moment, very little is known about the potential effects of microplastics entering the body, though it’s a developing area of research.
And yet, despite the severity of the situation, one million water bottles are bought around world every minute. We ferociously consume new goods, instead of replacing old ones. We don’t blink when our so-called recycling ends up in a landfill. We didn’t wake up to plastic taking over the planet, but maybe we’ll pay attention to plastics invading our bodies. Maybe.