Scientists detect microplastics in human veins, colon tissue, and urine


Micro- and nanoplastics are omnipresent in the environment (FPF reported) as well as in foods and beverages (FPF reported and here) leading to the direct exposure of humans. The small plastic particles have been analyzed and detected in a wide range of human biological samples (FPF reported), including breastmilk (FPF reported) and placenta (FPF reported), and potential effects are being evaluated (FPF reported and here). Three recently published research articles investigated the presence of microplastics in humans, analyzing human vein and colon tissues, as well as urine. A review focused on the health implications of this particle presence looking into potential carcinogenic effects.

In an article published on February 1, 2023, in the journal Plos One, Jeanette M. Rotchell and co-authors from the University of Hull and Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, UK, reported on the presence of microplastics in the human vein tissue.

The scientists collected saphenous (leg) vein tissues from five patients with a mean age of 72 years undergoing surgery. Upon tissue digestion and filtration, they assessed the number, polymer type, and shape of plastic particles using μFTIR spectroscopy (5 µm size limit). Rotchell and co-authors detected 15 plastic particles/g of tissue after subtracting the corresponding blanks. While “microplastics levels within tissue samples were not significantly higher (p = 0.293) than those identified within combined procedural blanks”, they differed in polymer types. Alkyd resin, polyvinyl propionate/acetate (PVA), and nylon-ethylene-vinyl acetate were most abundant in the tissue. Comparing the levels with those reported for colon (FPF reported) and lung, they were found to be similar for the vein tissue.

This is the first scientific evidence that small plastic particles are present in human vascular tissues supporting “the phenomenon of transport of microplastics within human tissues.” The small pilot study serves as a “starting point for more in depth analysis of the levels, types, and clinical implications of such presence.”

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Food Packaging Forum, 15-02-23