Microplastics used in paint and food packaging have found their way into human veins, a new study revealed.
Scientists analyzed human saphenous vein tissue taken from patients undergoing heart bypass surgery in a small pilot study of five.
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Saphenous veins are blood vessels in the legs which assist in sending blood from the legs and feet back up to the heart.
It was found that microplastics can pass through blood vessels to vascular tissue, although, the health implications are yet to be studied.
The study, published in the Plos One journal, found that the most prominent microplastics included alkyd resin – found in synthetic paint, varnishes and enamels; polyvinyl acetate (PVAC) – an adhesive found in food packaging and nylon; and EVOH and EVA – used in flexible packaging materials.
At least 15 microplastic particles per gram of vein tissue and five different polymer types in the tissue in four out of the five samples were found. Until now, no studies have examined whether microplastics can infiltrate or cross any biological barrier, including blood vessels.
Professor Jeanette Rotchell, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Hull, was quoted as saying by The Independent: “We were surprised to find them. We already know microplastics are in blood, from a study by Dutch colleagues last year.”
She continued, “But it was not clear whether they could cross blood vessels into vascular tissue and this work would suggest they can do just that.”
Rotchell also said the implications on human health are unknown at this time but “what we can say is that from studies using cells grown in dishes, they cause inflammation and stress responses.”
Humans can ingest plastic particles via consumption of seafood and land-based food products, drinking water and sometimes, via the air.
In a 2022 study, microplastic pollution was detected in human blood for the first time. The study included 22 volunteers.
Large amounts of plastic waste are dumped in the environment and microplastics now contaminate everything with which humans interact. In some instances, microplastics have been found in the feces of babies and adults.
UAE plastic ban
The United Arab Emirates last month announced a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags to take effect in 2024, the latest initiative aimed at reducing pollution in the oil-rich nation.
The law would prohibit the import, production and circulation of such bags from January 1, 2024, according to an announcement carried by the Emirates News Agency WAM.
A similar ban would apply to plastic cups, plates and cutlery from January 1, 2026.
Plastic bags are known as one of the most problematic kinds of garbage, polluting streets and waterways and harming birds and marine life.
Plastic takes decades to degrade and microscopic particles have been found inside the bodies of fish, birds and other animals.
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