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Scientists Discover Toxic Microplastics in Every Human Placenta Tested in Study

Scientists Discover Toxic Microplastics in Every Human Placenta Tested in Study

Such widespread microplastic prevalence in human tissue could explain the puzzling rise in colon cancer among younger people.

Harmful microplastics have been found in human placenta, with some of them known to trigger asthma, damage the liver, cause cancer, and impair reproductive function.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the Toxicological Sciences journal on Feb. 17, examined the issue of nano- and microplastic (NMP) pollution in human beings. Researchers found that all 62 tested placenta samples contained microplastics, with concentrations ranging from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue. The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby while also removing waste products from the child’s blood.

The most prevalent microplastic found in the samples was polyethylene, which accounted for 54 percent of all detected NMPs and was “consistently found in nearly all samples.”

Polyethylene has been associated with several health complications like asthma, hormone disruption impacting reproduction, and mild dermatitis or swelling and irritation of the skin.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and nylon each represented approximately 10 percent of the NMPs by weight. PVC has been linked to damage to the liver and reproductive system. The substance is carcinogenic. While nylon itself is seen as harmless, the material undergoes chemical treatments during the manufacturing processes that can pose health risks.

The remaining 26 percent of microplastics found in the 62 tested placenta were represented by nine other polymers. Matthew Campen, Professor in the UNM Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who led the team that conducted the study, expressed concerns about the steadily rising presence of microplastics and its potential health implications.

While plastics themselves have traditionally been seen to be biologically inert, microplastics are so small they can cross cell membranes, he noted…

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