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Microplastics detected in the placenta

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Microplastics are everywhere—even in the human placenta.

Tiny particles of microplastics have been detected in all 62 placenta samples tested by researchers at the University of Mexico Health Sciences Centre.

Polyethylene—used to make plastic bags and bottles—was the most common polymer detected in the samples, and it made up 54 percent of all the plastics in the placenta.  Polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, and nylon each made up another 10 percent of the total.

The amounts were tiny and ranged from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue (a microgram is a millionth of a gram), but the researchers fear these amounts will increase in the placenta as we all become more exposed to plastics in the environment.

Scientists don’t know if microplastics have any effect on our health.  Some are so small, measured in nanometres (a billionth of a meter), that they can cross cell membranes, and they could be responsible for puzzling health problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer, and the decline in sperm counts.

References
Toxicological Sciences, 2024; doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfae021
Article Topics: microplastics, placenta
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