At the United European Gastroenterology meeting in Vienna this week, researchers announced they have unearthed microplastics in stool samples from a variety of international test subjects.
Every sixty seconds, a dump-truck full of plastic plunks into the earth’s oceans.
That’s 8,000,000 metric tons every year! Once afloat, whatever does not wash ashore ultimately breaks down into itty bits. The paltriest pieces—the ones tinier than 5 millimeters wide—are called microplastics, and their destinies are numerous.
Some clump onto an Alaska-sized whorl of plastic debris whirling in the Atlantic Ocean – while others dip to a variety of depths, accordant to their fates, suffusing the world’s waters. Yet others get ingested by marine life, namely fish and shellfish, which are in turn eaten by other animals, like fowl and humans.
“Plastics are pervasive in everyday life and humans are exposed to plastics in numerous ways,” stated Philipp Schwable, a Medical University of Vienna gastroenterologist, who spearheaded the study, via email. And still, even he did not expect that every dung would test positive.
The pilot survey tested 8 subjects from 8 various countries: Italy, Austria, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, and the UK. Each retained a food diary the week prior to donating their poopie, which they deposited in glass jars, shrouded in bio-hazard bags, and shipped via cardboard boxes.
Every study’s poop tested positive for plastics, from polypropylene (bottle caps) to polyethylene (commonly found in plastic bags) to polyvinyl chloride (the ‘PVC’ in PVC pipes). As a matter of fact, of the 10 types of plastic that the research workers screened for, 9 were discovered. On average, the surveyors turned up 20 particles of microplastic per ¼ pound of poop!
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