Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

YES, microplastics end up in our guts. Now the question is from where? And to what effect?

Posted 22 Oct 2018 / 0

The New York TimesMicroplastics Find Their Way Into Your Gut, a Pilot Study Finds

For those of us who have been aware of the quickly-emerging fields studying microplastic pollution, these results are far from surprising. I am in fact more surprised that this rather limited pilot study was the first of its kind. While the concentration of plastics discovered is not that high, what’s more concerning is how little we know about the ultimate health effects of all this plastic passing through our guts.

Given where microplastics are mostly found — in the ocean — it is easy to assume that consumption of marine foods is the culprit. But as this article points out, there have to be additional sources of microplastic consumption because even those who don’t eat seafood have plastic in their guts. So the next frontier is clearly understanding what the sources of exposure are, and in what relative magnitudes. As a vegan I am curious whether eating low on the food chain protects me from exposure to microplastic pollution. Or is my drinking water a significant enough source of microplastics to make my diet less relevant? These are the questions at the frontier of this research.

So get ready to donate your stool for science… we really need to know the extent to which microplastics are making it into our digestive systems.

A Minor Post, Environmental Justice, Health & Medicine, Pollution

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