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Study finds microplastics in heart tissues

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2023 - 5:05pm
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Plastic production has swelled from 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 390 million tons in 2021.

Today, microplastics are found on land, sea and air, and humans take them in through food, breathing and body cavities. But what about fully enclosed organs, like the heart?

The authors of a new pilot study in the American Cancer Society journal Environmental Science & Technology found tens to thousands of individual microplastic pieces in most tissue samples they looked at.

The study examined heart tissue samples taken from 15 people during cardiac surgeries, as well as pre- and post-operation blood specimens from half of the participants.

Researchers found nine types of plastic — including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (acrylic) — ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers wide, or roughly from the size of a dust mote to that of a sand grain.

More research is needed, but the results suggest at least some of the microplastics might be left behind following surgeries.

Science Sustainability Health + Medicine