Microplastic fibres were found deep in the lower lungs of living human beings in almost every person sampled in a recent study by scientists at Hull York Medical School, UK.
The study, ‘Detection of microplastics in human lung tissue using μFTIR spectroscopy’, published on 29 March 2022 discovered microplastic particles – present in many Covid masks – in the lung tissue of 11 out of 13 patients undergoing surgery.
Polypropylene (“PP”) and polyethylene terephthalate (“PET”) were the most prevalent substances present in the lungs.
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Some of the microscopic plastic fragments and fibres discovered – in patients undergoing surgery whose lung tissue they sampled – were two millimetres long.
The research used samples of healthy lung tissue from next to the lung region targeted for surgery. It analysed particles as small as 0.003mm in size and used spectroscopy to identify plastic types. It also used control samples to account for the level of background contamination.
The plastic dust and microscopic debris comprise the same plastics used to manufacture the ubiquitous surgical masks worn by hundreds of millions of people around the world as mandated by governments to halt the Covid “pandemic.”
The material most commonly used to make these masks is PP. PP fabric is made from a “thermoplastic” polymer, meaning that it’s easy to work with and shape at high temperatures.
Blue surgical masks can also be made of polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester, all of which are types of fabrics derived from thermoplastic polymers.
Disposable blue masks are to be found littering almost every city street in the developed world after, in some places, two years of Covid mandates ruled that masks should be worn in most indoor environments much of the time. Healthy adults, children, the immunocompromised, and the elderly have all been subject to mask mandates.
Microplastics were detected in human blood in March 2022, showing the particles can travel around the human body and may become embedded in organs. The impact on health is still to be determined.
“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – it’s a breakthrough result,” said Prof Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “We also know in general that babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure,” he said. “That worries me a lot.”
A further study published on 5 April found specific types of harm – cell death, allergic response, and damage to cell walls – were caused by the levels of microplastics that people ingest. The researchers are concerned because microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at the levels known to be eaten by people via their food.
The study, ‘Detection of microplastics in human lung tissue using μFTIR spectroscopy’, which found microplastics in patients’ lungs stated:
“Airborne microplastics (“MPs”) have been sampled globally, and their concentration is known to increase in areas of high human population and activity, especially indoors. Respiratory symptoms and disease following exposure to occupational levels of MPs within industry settings have also been reported.
“In total, 39 MPs were identified within 11 of the 13 lung tissue samples… These results support inhalation as a route of exposure for environmental MPs, and this characterisation of types and levels can now inform realistic conditions for laboratory exposure experiments, with the aim of determining health impacts.”
“We did not expect to find the highest number of particles in the lower regions of the lungs, or particles of the sizes we found,” said Laura Sadofsky, a senior author of the study. “It is surprising as the airways are smaller in the lower parts of the lungs and we would have expected particles of these sizes to be filtered out or trapped before getting this deep.”
“This data provides an important advance in the field of air pollution, microplastics, and human health,” she said.
An older study published in 2020 looked into the risks associated with mask-wearing and the inhalation of microplastics. The study concluded:
- Wearing masks poses microplastic inhalation risk, reusing masks increases the risk
- Wearing N95 masks poses lowest microplastic inhalation risks in the long term
- Wearing masks, except for N95, poses higher stripe type microplastic inhalation risk
- Wearing masks poses considerably lower spherical-type microplastic inhalation risk
- Wearing masks leads to lower gross microplastic inhalation risk in the long term
“Surgical, cotton, fashion, and activated carbon masks wearing pose higher fibre-like microplastic inhalation risk, while all masks generally reduced exposure when used under their supposed time (<4 h),” the study said.
Read more: ‘Study finds plastics found in masks present in patients’ lungs’, Western Standard Online, 17 April 2022
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