One of the biggest concerns regarding plastic pollution is that microplastics can make their way to our plates from the soil or ocean. Scientists are still uncertain about the effects of microplastics on human health.
A new study of this nature has been published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials found that microplastics can result in cell death at environmentally-relevant levels.
“This is the first time scientists have attempted to quantify the impact of the levels microplastics on the environment. Human cellsA statistical analysis was done on all published studies by the lead author and Ph.D. student from Hull York Medical School. Evangelos DanopoulosAccording to a University of York press statement. “What we found is that toxicology tests show reactions such as cell death and allergic reactions, which could be caused by high levels of microplastics in the ingesting or inhaling.
The researchers reviewed prior studies that examined the effects of microplastics on cell growth. Five effects were specifically tested in the studies:
- Cytotoxicity, or cell death.
- Immune responses like allergic reactions.
- Impacts on cell membranes and the ability to penetrate them
- The ability to cause oxidative damage, which can lead to tissue and cell death.
- Genotoxicity is the ability to cause damage to a cell’s genetic information.
They found that microplastics may contribute to the four first effects at certain levels. According to the study authors, microplastic concentrations as low as 10 micrograms/milliliter could damage cell viability, while concentrations as high at 20 micrograms/milliliter can cause allergic reactions.
Researchers also compared concentrations that harm cells to levels that humans could reasonably ingest. They also looked at three previous studies by Danopoulos and members of the Human Health and Emerging Environmental Contaminants research team at the University of Hull. These included microplastics in water, food, and table salt.
Danopoulos stated that his research has shown that microplastics are being ingested at levels that are consistent with harmful effects on cells. This is often the triggering event for adverse health effects.
Despite this, scientists aren’t sure what these microplastics do once inside the body.[T]Danopoulos stated that the greatest uncertainty is the way in which microplastics are excreted from our bodies. This is an important aspect to determine the true level of risk.
It is possible that humans consume between 39,000- 52,000 calories per day Microplastic particlesThe Independent reported on this for a year.
There is increasing evidence that this is a serious health problem. Recent research suggests that microplastics might help bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.
Other ResearchNew Atlas reported that microplastics can alter cell shape, decluster lung cells, cross blood-brain barriers in mice, and contain chemicals that damage brain cells.
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