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Plastic found in blood of almost 8-in-10 people, study reveals

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  • Peer-reviewed research published in Environment International journal
  • First study in the world to test blood for plastic particles
  • 77 percent of blood samples tested contained plastic particles
  • Four high production polymers found – including PET and polystyrene
  • Polymers found in blood are used in a wide range of everyday products
  • As the amount of plastic in our world increases, so does our exposure. We have a right to know what this means for our health

THE BLOOD of 77 percent of people tested in a scientific study was found to contain plastic particles, it was revealed today.

The study is the first in the world to test for the presence of plastic particles in human blood.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environment International, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most common type of plastic found in the human bloodstream.

PET plastic is most commonly used to produce drinks bottles, food packaging and clothes.

The study was commissioned by Common Seas and led by scientists at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

The research saw the blood of 22 people tested for five types of plastic – polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Some 17 of the 22 blood donors carried a quantifiable mass of plastic particles in their blood.

After PET, polystyrene was the most commonly found plastic in the blood samples tested. Polystyrene is used to make a wide variety of common household products.

The third most widely found plastic in blood was polyethylene – a material regularly used in the production of plastic carrier bags.

Up to three different polymer types in a single sample were measured.

PET was found in the bloodstream of 50 percent of those tested, while polystyrene was present in 36 percent.

Polyethylene was found in the blood of 23 percent of study participants.

Plastic particles can enter the body through the air you breathe, your food and drink. 

Personal care products may also be a cause of plastic ingestion including polyethylene in toothpaste and PET in lip gloss.

Campaigners believe these new findings raise serious concerns over the impact of plastic on health.

Scientists have shown that plastic particles may be transported to organs via the bloodstream, and could be causing an inflammatory response.

Within the next 20 years, plastic production is on track to double with $2.3 trillion dollars forecasted to be invested in new plastics. As our exposure skyrockets, Common Seas is calling for a clearer understanding of how this impacts our health. Currently, there is no correlation between the growth in plastic production and the funding directed towards researching what this means for human health.

As part of its Blood Type Plastic Campaign, Common Seas is calling on the UK Government to introduce a new £15 million National Plastic Health Impact Research Fund. This call already has the support of more than 80 pre-eminent scientists, campaigners and MPs.

The Fund would be used to finance research to urgently understand how increasing exposure to plastic particles affects human health.

Dick Vethaak, Professor of Ecotoxicology / Water Quality and Health at the VU University Amsterdam said: “This research found that almost 8-in-10 of people tested had plastic particles in their blood. But it doesn’t tell us what’s a safe or unsafe level of plastic particle presence. How much is too much? We urgently need to fund further research so we can find out. As our exposure to plastic particles increases, we have a right to know what it’s doing to our bodies.”

Common Seas CEO Jo Royle said: “This finding is extremely concerning. We are already eating, drinking and breathing in plastic. It’s in the deepest sea trench and on top of Mount Everest. And yet, plastic production is set to double by 2040.

We have a right to know what all this plastic is doing to our bodies. Which is why we’re asking business, government and philanthropists around the world to fund urgent further research into clarifying our understanding of the health impacts of plastic via a National Plastic Health Impact Research Fund.”

For more information visit commonseas.com

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