Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

Plastic is everywhere — literally everywhere. A growing body of research shows that plastic is not only filling the world’s oceans and wilderness regions, it’s also invading our bodies through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume. And now, a new study has shown that microplastics — tiny plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters but bigger than 1 micron — are even present inside human placentas, posing a potential risk to fetal health and development. Published this month in Environmental International, the study examined six human placentas from women who experienced healthy pregnancies and births. During delivery, the obstetricians and midwives followed a “plastic-free protocol,” swapping plastic gloves for cotton ones, and not using any plastic equipment or supplies to avoid cross-contamination. The researchers found a total of 12 microplastic fragments in four of the six placentas. Three of these pieces were recognized as polypropylene, a plastic commonly used in food containers and packaging. While the other pieces were harder to identify, they appeared to be plastic bits from “man-made coatings, paints, adhesives, plasters, finger paints, polymers and cosmetics and personal care products,” according to the study. Microplastics found in a freshwater stream in Florida in 2017. Image by Florida Sea Grant / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). The effects of microplastics in the human body on health are still largely unknown, but the researchers said it was “a matter of great concern” due to the critical role the placenta plays in fetal development. Lead author…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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