Each year, up to 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans. Second Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic waste research specialist, If current patterns of plastic production and consumption continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
This estimate indicates that around 99% of the birds will have ingested plastic. Marine litter will harm 600 marine species. 15% of species affected by ingestion and entrapment with marine plastic litter will be at risk of extinction.
300 million tons of plastic waste are generated every year. Plastic bags have been found on the top of Mount Everest, on the polar ice caps and in the deepest places in the ocean. Plastic bags are confused with jellyfish or other food from marine life. In June 2018 a dead sperm whale appeared on the coast of Spain, 32 kilos of plastic bags, nets and a drum were found inside. Globally, 50% of all plastic waste is single-use plastic.
In this context, hundreds of investigations have explored the problem of plastic pollution and its effects on daily life, however, a new study by professionals from the University of Hull in the UK and published in Total environmental scienceanalyzed human lung tissue samples to detect and characterize any microplastics present e found 39 microplastics in total within 11 of 13 lung tissue samples. Of those detected, 12 types of polymers were identified, of which the most abundant polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, PET and resin.
Airborne microplastics have been sampled from around the world and their concentration is known to increase in areas of high human activity, especially indoors. Scientific research aimed to find out whether microplastics present in the environment can be inhaled, deposited and accumulated in human lungs and new research suggests microplastics can be inhaled.
Respiratory symptoms and illnesses have been reported in the past following exposure to occupational levels of microplastics within industrial settings. Previous research first led to the detection of microplastics in human blood in March, showing that particles can settle in different parts of the body. The health impact of inhaling microplastics is not yet known, but scientists fear that particulate air pollution is already known to cause a host of serious health problems and millions of premature deaths each year.
Laura Sadofskylead author of the article said: “We did not expect to find as many particles in the lower regions of the lungs, or particles of the size we have located.. This is surprising since the airways are smaller in the lower parts of the lungs and we would have expected airways of this size to be filtered or trapped before reaching the organs that deep. “
This study of the scientists of the University of Hull recorded high levels of atmospheric microplastics during a year-long study at a site near a busy highway. The researchers found that the most abundant microplastics came from degraded plastic containers or bags; and nylon, which can come from clothing; as well as resins, which could come from run-down roads, paint marks or tire rubber. Scientists have also discovered microplastics the size and shape that humans can inhale.
Lauren Jenner, another lead author and a graduate student at Hull York School of Medicine said so “This study points out that microplastics are everywhere. It shows that they are present at high levels in selected external areas and that the levels can be higher than internal ones. It is now essential to study the external environments to which humans are regularly exposed to discover the levels of exposure and the types of microplastics present. “
Inhalation of microplastics is an emerging concern from what is known from recent studies that have been observed in human lung tissue samples. Plastics are designed to be tough, so they can stay inside the body for long periods of time with no possibility of breakage or removal. “These findings could now be part of future work to help determine any health impacts, allowing us to use representative types and realistic exposure levels of such microplastics in further cellular studies,” concludes Jenner.