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Popular Bottled Water Brands Test Positive for Plastic Contamination in New Study

Popular Bottled Water Brands Test Positive for Plastic Contamination in New Study



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In September, nonprofit journalism organization Orb Media found that 83 percent of the globe’s tap water contains microscopic plastic fibers. According to a new set of data published by the same Washington, D.C.-based group, much of the world’s bottled water contains the same contaminant — and at even higher levels on average.

“Bottled water evokes safety and convenience in a world full of real and perceived threats to personal and public health,” Orb wrote on its website. But as stated by its findings, the water presumed safe by many might not be as pure as they once thought.

For the study, researchers at the State University of New York tested 250 bottles from 11 different brands. The majority were tainted with microscopic polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate particles, ranging from the width of a human hair to the size of a red blood cell.

It is unclear how this could affect human health.

The results varied not just between brands, but between individual bottles. One bottle of Nestlé Pure Life tested at 10,390 particles per liter, the highest level of plastic out of any sampled,— though most of the brand’s bottles tested much lower and one had as few as six particles. Bisleri (5,230), Gerolsteiner (5,160), and Aqua (4,713) all had at least one bottle with a high concentration of plastic particles.

San Pellegrino reportedly contained the fewest particles of plastic (74 per liter in the most contaminated bottle tested), followed by Evian (256), and Dasani (335). Aquafina, Epura, Minalba, and Wahaha all fell somewhere in the middle.

Every brand tested had at least one bottle with fewer than 10 microparticles per liter, and most had at least one bottle with effectively no microplastic contamination. Still, the researchers found even higher levels of plastic per liter in bottled water on average than the same team had had found in the 2016 study of much-maligned tap water (though it is noted that methods differed between the studies).

The Daily Meal has reached out to each company for comment.

"The quality of our products and safety of our consumers are of paramount importance to us and we take them extremely seriously," a spokesperson for Dasani's parent company, Coca-Cola, told The Daily Meal. "We have some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry, and the water we use in our drinks is subject to multi-step filtration processes prior to production. As Orb Media’s own reporting has shown, microscopic plastic fibers appear to be ubiquitous, and therefore may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products. We stand by the safety of our products, and welcome continued study of plastics in our environment."

Nestlé Waters has also issued a statement claiming that all of its products are safe for consumption.

"Recent scientific investigations show that micro plastics can be present in the natural environment and may even be ingested through the air we breathe. As is the case for many emerging topics, robust evidence is lacking on the potential impact of micro plastics on human health and whether a safe level of exposure needs to be determined. We welcome further research on the possible effects of micro-plastics on human health," a spokesperson for Nestlé Waters told The Daily Meal. "Regardless, we share concerns about this issue and take it seriously. Over the past two years, we have tested a range of our products, including Nestlé Pure Life and S. Pellegrino, for the presence of micro-plastics. Systematic analysis is now part of our Yearly Monitoring Plan for all of our finished products, using state-of-the art devices and techniques for clearer identification of micro-plastic traces and to better determine their origin."

Minalba's response is as follows: "Minalba Águas Minerais explains that the process of extracting and packaging water from the Agua Santa mineral source, located in Campos do Jordão (SP), follows all the quality and safety standards required by Brazilian legislation, rigorously reflecting the maintenance of the mineral properties from nature. Through rigorous laboratory tests and the most modern manufacturing processes, attested by ISO 9000: 2008 Certification, the company reinforces its commitment to the consumer, being in compliance with Resolutions 274/2005 and 275/2002 of the National Health Surveillance (Anvisa), an organ of the Ministry of Health, and Ordinance 374/2009 of the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM)."

Even though tap and bottled water have both tested positive for plastic, you may want to stick with the former. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons you shouldn't drink bottled water.

This article has been updated to reflect company statements.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


Microplastic particles now discoverable in human organs

Microplastic and nanoplastic particles are now discoverable in human organs thanks to a new technique.

Microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them in, but the potential impact on human health is not yet known.

The researchers expect to find the particles in human organs and have identified chemical traces of plastic in tissue. But isolating and characterising such minuscule fragments is difficult, and contamination from plastics in the air is also a challenge.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm in size, are shed by synthetic clothing being washed, vehicle tyres, and the spillage of plastic pellets used by manufacturers. The physical breakdown of plastic litter also creates them. Rain washes them into rivers and the sea, but they can also be blown by the wind, spread by flying insects, and end up in fields when treated sewage waste is used as fertiliser.

Studies have found microplastics in bottom-living sea creatures and sediments taken from the North Sea. Once ingested by small creatures, the microplastics move through the food chain. A study found microplastics in every one of 50 marine mammals washed up on UK shores, and the pollution is also ending up in humans.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after analysis found that more than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands contained tiny pieces of plastic. The UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in January 2019, and the EU has proposed new measures to curb their use.

To test their technique, they added particles to 47 samples of lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue obtained from a tissue bank established to study neurodegenerative diseases. Their results showed that the microplastics could be detected in every sample.

The scientists, whose work is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, said their technique would enable other researchers to determine contamination levels in human organs around the world.

“It would be naive to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us,” said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. “We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.”

The analytical method developed allows the researchers to identify dozens of types of plastic, including the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in plastic drinks bottles and the polyethylene used in plastic bags.

They found bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, in all 47 samples. The US Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about BPA because “it is a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies”. The researchers examined lung, liver, spleen and kidney tissue as these organs are likely to be exposed to microplastics or collect them.

“We never want to be alarmist, but it is concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are present everywhere [may] enter and accumulate in human tissues, and we don’t know the possible health effects,” said Varun Kelkar of Arizona State University, part of the research team.

“Once we get a better idea of what’s in the tissues, we can conduct epidemiological studies to assess human health outcomes,” he said. “That way, we can start to understand the potential health risks, if any.”

Charles Rolsky, another member of the team, said: “In a few short decades, we’ve gone from seeing plastic as a wonderful benefit to considering it a threat.”

Microplastics are those less than 5mm in diameter and nanoplastics have a diameter of less than 0.001mm. Both form largely from the abrasion of larger pieces of plastic dumped into the environment. Research in wildlife and laboratory animals has linked exposure to tiny plastics to infertility, inflammation and cancer.

The researchers are now testing tissues to find microplastics that accumulated during donors’ lifetimes. Donors to tissue banks often provide information on their lifestyles, diets and occupations, so this may help future work to determine the main ways in which people are exposed to microplastics.

The new methodology developed by the team to extract plastics from the tissues and analyse them will be shared online so other researchers can report their results in a standardised way. “This shared resource will help build a plastic exposure database so that we can compare exposures in organs and groups of people over time and geographic space,” said Halden.

Previous studies have shown people eat and breathe in at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and that microplastic pollution is raining down on city dwellers, with London, UK, having the highest level of four cities analysed last year. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures.

Other work has shown different kinds of nanoparticles from air pollution are present in human hearts and brains, and have been linked to brain cancer.

This article was updated on 17 August 2020, after more information was provided to the Guardian by the researchers, to reflect the fact that the plastic particles had been inserted into the samples of human tissue.


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