Microplastics Find Their Way Into Your Gut, a Pilot Study Finds

Microplastics Find Their Way Into Your Gut, a Pilot Study Finds, by Douglas Quenqua.

In the next 60 seconds, people around the world will purchase one million plastic bottles and two million plastic bags. By the end of the year, we will produce enough bubble wrap to encircle the Equator 10 times.

Though it will take more than 1,000 years for most of these items to degrade, many will soon break apart into tiny shards known as microplastics, trillions of which have been showing up in the oceans, fish, tap water and even table salt.

Now, we can add one more microplastic repository to the list: the human gut.

In a pilot study with a small sample size, researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of eight people from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria. To their surprise, every single sample tested positive for the presence of a variety of microplastics. …

Microplastics — defined as pieces less than 0.2 inches long, roughly the size of a grain of rice — have become a major concern for environmental researchers over the past decade. Several studies have found high levels of microplastics in marine life, and last year, microplastics were detected in 83 percent of tap water samples around the world (the highest contamination rate belonged to the United States, where 94 percent of samples were contaminated).

Most microplastics are the unintended result of larger plastics breaking apart, and the United States, Canada and other countries have banned the use of tiny plastic beads in beauty products.

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