Interesting, yet disturbing, research found microplastics in human placentas and also that the microplastic contamination of placentas has been rising steadily since 2006. During this time global plastic production has also increased.
Microplastics are the teeny, tiny plastic particles (less than 5mm or .20 inches in length) that are a result of plastics breaking up over time. The big question now is: Are microplastics also getting into the fetus?
University of Hawaii researchers examined 10 healthy human placentas in each of these years: 2006, 2013, and 2021. Microplastics were found in six of the 10 (60%) in 2006, 9 out of the 10 (90%) in 2013, and in all placentas (100%) in 2021. Only a sample (50 grams) was taken from each placenta, but it was clear that the number of microplastics found also increased over time: 22 particles from 2006, 38 particles in 2013, and 82 particles in 2021.
Another concern is that microplastic particles leach chemicals, and also that some of the particles found in the placentas had endocrine disrupting properties. It is unknown at this time what the effects are from microplastic accumulation in our bodies. Perhaps they have no effect, but absolutely no one thinks they are beneficial. So far other research has found microplastics in the human gut, lungs, bloodstream, and reproductive organs (male testes, female breasts).
Microplastics are of concern to all of us because we are ingesting them in our foods and beverages (especially bottled water), absorbing them through our skin, and breathing them in. Think of all the plastic products we use (e.g., toothpaste, bottled water, computers, cell phones, plastic bags) and wear (synthetic fabrics) daily.
From Science Daily: Rise of microplastics discovered in placentas of Hawaii mothers
A placenta (commonly known as the "afterbirth" or "ʻiewe" in Hawaiian) is a temporary organ which connects the mother to the fetus via the umbilical cord. Its purpose is to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fetus while serving as a barrier to prevent infections or viruses from entering the developing fetus. ...continue reading "Microplastics Found In Placentas"