Scientists Detected Microplastics in Human Heart Tissues Pre and Post Surgery

By: | August 14th, 2023

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Microplastics, akin to ubiquitous particles, have unveiled their presence in virtually every corner of our environment. From the depths of our oceans to the heights of our mountains, these minuscule plastic fragments have managed to permeate ecosystems far and wide. They traverse waterways, drift through the air, and even find their inconspicuous way into the most intricate biological systems.

Annually, people consume between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastic particles, influenced by age and gender. Researchers have also verified noticeable amounts of microplastics in sizes ranging from 1┬Ám to 5mm within our bloodstream, brain, semen, and food.

A groundbreaking preliminary investigation involving individuals who underwent heart surgery has unveiled the presence of microplastics within various heart tissues.

In this study, scientists examined the heart tissues of 15 individuals both before and after they had heart surgery. They collected heart tissue samples during the surgeries and obtained pre- and post-operation blood samples from half of the participants.

Using laser direct infrared imaging, the team scrutinized the samples, revealing particles measuring 20 to 500 micrometers in width. These particles, originating from eight plastic types including polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, and poly(methyl methacrylate), were identified.

The technique unveiled numerous microplastic fragments, ranging from tens to thousands, with variations in quantity and materials among the participants. Plastic particles existed in all blood samples. However, after surgery, their average size decreased, and a wider range of plastic types was observed.

Unveiling Overlooked Exposure Pathways and Urging Further Research

The scientists offer initial proof of microplastic accumulation and endurance within the heart and its inner tissues. They also emphasized how medical procedures can be an overlooked pathway for microplastic exposure.

However, the researchers also advocate for further investigations to better understand the implications of microplastics on cardiovascular health.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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