University of Hull and Castle Hill Hospital scientists have identified minute particles of plastic in lung tissue removed from live human patients. It has marked the first time such materials have been discovered in living human patients. The study was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Prior research has shown that plastics of all sizes have been winding up in places all across the planet. Researchers have also found tiny bits of plastics in animals and in humans. These particles have been found in the spleen, kidneys and liver of both live and deceased humans. Recently, scientists reported finding microplastics in the bloodstream of a live human patient. Scientists found microplastics in lung tissue taken from live patients in a hospital.
Scientists suspected that micro-sized bits of plastic might be inhaled by some people. They worked with surgical teams at Castle Hill Hospital and their patients. The patients were undergoing surgery for treatment of various lung ailments. The patients agreed to allow tissue removed from their lungs during surgery to be examined by the scientists.
Scientists were able to collect 13 samples and all the samples went under the microscope. Scientists found bits of plastic in 11 of them. Scientists found 12 different kinds, while studying the bits of plastic.
This includes those used in common household applications like clothing, packaging and bottles. Scientists were surprised when the plastic bits were found. In the upper part of the lungs, such particles would be expected to collect. But scientists found them in the lower regions.
This is surprising as the airways in such parts of the lungs are much smaller. This makes it much more difficult for particles to reach them. Scientists were also surprised to find higher levels of the plastics in male patients rather than female patients.