Microplastic is making its presence felt all around us. It is not limited to the oceans where it is disrupting marine ecosystems. From our environment, it has now made its way inside our bodies, and those of our infants. It is evident through our wastes. What may seem more worrisome is that a certain type of microplastic is found more in infant feces, than in adults.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic, created by weathering or other such actions that plastic discarded in the environment undergoes. Since each piece is less than 5 mm in size, it is easy for them to make their way into our food, and other aspects of our lives.
A team of researchers sought to determine the quantities of two types of microplastics – PET and PC – present in human fecal matter. PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is a common form of plastic found in plastic bottles, drug packaging (blister packs), precooked meal containers, cosmetic packaging, and more. PC, or poly-carbonates, are thermoplastics used to make safety goggles, CDs, and even some parts of electronic devices.
Using mass spectrometry, they analysed six samples of infant fecal matter and ten samples from adults. Presence of at least one type of microplastic was confirmed in all fecal matter.
The study noted that infant feces showed 10 times more PET microplastics as compared to the adult samples. Average levels of microplastics in both age groups were similar. While the paper points towards sources such as toys, milk bottles, teethers, etc. as sources for infants, it noted that further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
There is not enough research to know the specific hazards that microplastics of various kinds may pose to human health. Also, not enough is known about human exposure to microplastics. Earlier, it was believed that the particles can pass through the intestine without much damage. However, it is now being observed that these pieces could make their way into circulation in the body by crossing cell membranes. Exposure also led to death in laboratory animals and cells.
I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.