PlasticsFatE's Scientific Coordinator, Rudolf Reuther, was recently interviewed by Greenpeace Magazine in Germany for the latest issue.
In his interview, Rudolf explains that, "It is not an exaggeration to say that microplastics are almost everywhere today: in water, earth, air; in carrots, beer and pork. We breathe them in and swallow them with food".
He then describes how, "Once in the body, nanoparticles – smaller than a thousandth of a millimetre – penetrate tissue and cells. In mice, they get into the brain, and particles have been found in human tissue, in the airways of lung patients, and in donated blood. Babies already have plastic in their bodies before they are born because the particles can penetrate the placental barrier".
He continues, "However, it is still unclear exactly how harmful all of this is. It is assumed that particles can get lodged in organs. In the cardiovascular system of mice, plastic caused immune cells to clump together on the vascular walls. And water fleas, for example, had fewer offspring due to plastic particles. However, most study results cannot simply be extrapolated to humans. Certain substances contained in plastic products are considered carcinogenic. But more research is needed to find out how much and after how long they cause damage. The type of plastic also plays a role here: which chemicals it contains, such as plasticisers, how it decomposes over the long term, and how different substances interact".
"As far as the question of the effect on the human organism is concerned, we are still at the beginning", says Rudolph Reuther summarising the current state of science.
The article concludes by describing how Rudolf heads the European research project "PlasticsFatE" that investigates this question, and how the PlasticsFatE team is taking air samples in plastics processing factories in Norway and Italy and comparing them with urine, blood, and stool samples from the employees: research on the living object instead of in the petri dish, so to speak.
In a final word, the article states: "It is clear that we cannot escape the microplastics in our environment. All that remains for now is to at least live with as little plastic as possible: choosing natural fibres instead of polyester, using as little plastic packaging as possible, and drinking water from the tap instead of from PET bottles".
If you would like a copy of the Greenpeace Magazine, visit the website: https://www.greenpeace-magazin.de/magazin/gutes-essen