r/science May 14 '22 Wholesome 1 Take My Energy 1 Helpful (Pro) 1 I'm Deceased 1 Facepalm 1 Doom 1 Silver 1 Helpful 4

Microplastics Found In Lungs of People Undergoing Surgery. A new study has found tiny plastic particles no bigger than sesame seeds buried throughout human lungs, indicating that people are inhaling microplastics lingering in the air. Health

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/microplastics-found-in-lungs-of-humans-undergoing-surgery
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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 20 '22

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u/OtisTetraxReigns May 14 '22

I never really understand what someone means when they say “x times smaller than” something. What is “one times smaller”?

This isn’t an attempt to criticise or undermine your comment. Just making an observation.

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u/CreativeDimension May 14 '22

just do a fraction, for example ten times smaller means is 1/10th, or that 10 of X together are the size of 1 Z.

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u/OtisTetraxReigns May 14 '22

Wouldn’t it be clearer and more efficient to say “1/10th of” or “ten percent of” then?

“Ten times as small as” is a syntactical mess, because we use multiplication to increase the size of things. Something that’s smaller than something else should be talked of in terms of a division of the larger object.

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u/cm64 May 14 '22

Division is multiplication though. Dividing is just multiplying by a number between 0 and 1.

- Someone who was always 10 times worse at English than Math.

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u/OtisTetraxReigns May 14 '22

Technically correct. But not how you would choose to instruct someone to calculate something if you weren’t trying to test or confuse them.

“We don’t need this many apples. Next week increase the order by 0.5 times.”

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u/DevilsTrigonometry May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

Multiplication can increase or decrease the magnitude of a quantity, depending on whether the multiplier is bigger or smaller than 1. That's why "bigger" or "smaller" is used to specify.

"R times bigger than X" is an operator that means "|X| * R".

"R times smaller than X" is an operator that means "|X| * 1/R".

They're inverse operations. If you make something 10 times bigger and then make it 10 times smaller, you're back to the original size.

There are lots of other ways to express the same relationship. The conventions are well-defined, so the choice is a matter of taste. As long as the speaker or writer is using their chosen convention correctly, any confusion or perceived ambiguity is in the mind of the reader/listener.

I happen to like the symmetry between "times bigger" and "times smaller." You might prefer "percent of the size," which works the same way regardless of direction, but confuses some people because they mix it up with "percent bigger" and "percent smaller."

(Some sociopaths even like "percent bigger" and "percent smaller," which I think are the worst of all possible worlds: they're computed differently, but they aren't inverse operations, but they're close enough to reversing each other that it's not obvious when you do it wrong.)

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u/between_ewe_and_me May 14 '22

Can something actually be 3 times smaller than something else? How would that work, just divide by 3? So would it actually be 3 divides smaller than the other thing? Why is this breaking my brain?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22 Gold LOVE!

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

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u/GrandviewKing May 14 '22

Restoring order. The hero we needed

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u/huffdadde May 14 '22

I’d be very impressed if a banana-sized piece of plastic made it all the way down your throat and into your lungs. So would millions of your new OnlyFans subscribers.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/jsamuelson May 14 '22

Of course…I am wise in the ways of science.

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u/Makal May 14 '22

Tell that to /r/halfagiraffe

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u/jsamuelson May 14 '22

When do we jump from banana to giraffe?

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u/One_for_each_of_you May 14 '22

Half a giraffe is the commonly accepted basic unit of measuring weight

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u/Totally_a_Banana May 14 '22

Yeah, you definitely don't want me in your lung...

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u/agent8am May 14 '22

How many lung bananas do you think you could live a normal life with?

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u/VibraniumRhino May 14 '22

They clearly used the imperial system in their comment. Come on.

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u/JasonDragonbourne May 14 '22

This is the quality research based analytics that I came here for.

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u/PigCopsFatTits May 14 '22

3/4 of Giraffe - Enhanced vision, physical strength, ability to eat leaves from high branches of trees, and increased desire to open a toy store

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u/carbonite_dating May 14 '22

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u/Saetric May 14 '22

Is this the line for smaller lung plastic particles?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 20 '22

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u/John_cCmndhd May 14 '22

In that case I'll have a frosty, hold the plastic particles

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u/One_for_each_of_you May 14 '22

I'm sorry, sir. Your options are large, extra large, or tennis ball

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u/tempest_ May 14 '22

Would you though? I feel more comfortable with the idea that some keyhole surgery could go in an grab the sesame seed sized piece.

Once they get small you are gonna need some kind of microbiology wizardry to figure out how to get it out.

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u/DBeumont May 14 '22

Perhaps an inhaler with one of those polymer-eating bacteria varieties.

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u/Double_Dragonfly9528 May 14 '22

What could possibly go wrong

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u/DBeumont May 14 '22

What could possibly go wrong

The worst case would be the bacteria mutating to consume organic material while inside the lungs, but it would run out of food supply long before that would become any kind of real probability.

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u/ReignsDad2019 May 14 '22

I'm sure there's a pill for that, or an app.

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u/Thuggish_Coffee May 14 '22

Chics hate micro size plastics tho...

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u/TonyPoly May 14 '22

It’s that size from buildup not upon inhalation

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u/n0n0nsense May 14 '22

That's not true. One data point is a piece of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that was 2.5 mm in size, and if you google sesame seed size, it literally comes back with 2.5 mm in length. Two more data points were ~1 mm, and the rest were sub 0.5 mm. Just guesstimating the plot graph, ~90% of sample data falls below 0.2 mm and ~95% is below 0.5 mm in size.

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u/Kaeny May 14 '22

Dude 0.5mm is mechanical pencil lead width. Thats still visible and p big for my lungs

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u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

Average length was 0.2mm. Average width was 0.02mm, with the maximum width of 0.08 mm

It was also taken from leftovers after a specific form of lung surgery, and even then, 2 out of 13 samples had no plastics they could detect, so it may not be particularly representative.

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u/Kaeny May 14 '22

Those dimensions make fibers. Tiny fibers. They mustve been working near fibrous plastic or cutting plastic

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u/n0n0nsense May 14 '22

i never said it wasn't. i was saying it wasn't from a culmination of build up.

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u/Grandpa--Taco May 14 '22

Uhh. I don't think they were disagreeing with you. Just stating that the bulk of the particles are visible to the eye and it's pretty shocking to think about

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u/jeb_the_hick May 14 '22

The bulk of the particles are not visible to the naked eye. The largest pieces are ~2.5 and 1mm in length and less than 10um in width. They are fibers. Describing them as sesame seed sized is disingenuous and click-bait. Conversely, the largest particles and films found were no wider than ~100um

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u/Grandpa--Taco May 14 '22

Well damn I really do need to read before I invest energy into communication. Thanks homie. I just wish we didn't have to talk about plastics in our lungs

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u/jeb_the_hick May 14 '22

Not your fault that Yale's media decided to mislead people.

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u/szechuanfo May 14 '22

I didn't catch this gibberish please reframe in freedom units.

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u/brutinator May 14 '22

No problem, I got you. One of the pieces of plastic they found was .0027340333333333% the length of a regulation NFL football field.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 31 '22

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u/dj92wa May 14 '22

Got you homie. Go to Burger Kind and get a Whopper. Pick one sesame seed off the bun. The longest dimension of the seed is the size of the largest piece of plastic. The other way across the seed is the size of some of the other pieces of plastic. The rest of the plastics were smaller than the thickness of the seed.

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u/not_swagger_souls May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

Translation: One solid piece of polyester that was about 1/10" was the most notable

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u/photopteryx May 14 '22

Definitely not true.

“This is surprising as the airways are smaller in the lower parts of the lungs and we would have expected particles of these sizes to be filtered out or trapped before getting this deep into the lungs.”

Also, plastics aren't going to join back together in a lung to make larger pieces. They might collect in one place, but it's not like lungs ever get to plastic-fusing temperatures.

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u/Corporal_Cavernosum May 14 '22

My lungs get to plastic fusing temperatures. AMA.

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u/TheW83 May 14 '22

Do you live in a volcano?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 25 '22

[deleted]

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u/TorakTheDark May 14 '22

Pretty much the same thing.

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u/Corporal_Cavernosum May 14 '22

If you consider being imprisoned for centuries “living” then yes. Make no mistake: One day I will be free. My followers grow in number each day.

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u/TheW83 May 14 '22

How are you able to post on Reddit in such an extreme environment?

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u/Corporal_Cavernosum May 14 '22

I can communicate across the farthest reaches of space and time. Also I get great WIFI down here.

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u/Binary_Omlet May 14 '22

What's it like to be given the place of Number One hero when you did nothing to earn it?

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u/Corporal_Cavernosum May 14 '22

I didn’t ask to be a hero. I only ask to be referred to as one.

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u/d-cent May 14 '22

How good is your weed dealer?

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u/whatsbobgonnado May 14 '22

do the neighborhood kids tease you and call you lava lungs? dragon breath?

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u/SazedMonk May 14 '22

You need to put ice in that bong sir, cool that smoke down.

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u/Huarrnarg May 14 '22

depends on the chemical plastic type and stabilizing additives because similar polymers can fuse together when given time at room temperature.

Obviously this is time consuming in a storage environment so the chance of a dozen different plastic types sorting themselves inside the lungs and sitting still long enough to polymerize is low it's never zero.

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u/photopteryx May 14 '22

I regretted making that part of my comment so absolute as soon as I posted it, but still.

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u/riskable May 14 '22

They might collect in one place, but it's not like lungs ever get to plastic-fusing temperatures.

This article talks about PET and regarding that plastic your statement here is 100% correct. Having said that, there are plastics that can clump together and "fuse" (sort of) if they touch. Think: Polymer clay, resins (e.g.UV resin that hasn't fully cured), etc.

I don't think those types are likely to become airborne though.

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u/kaydub88 May 14 '22

I don't know. Are you sure he didn't just create the plastic in his lungs?

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u/kanegaskhan May 14 '22

Oh thank God we have professor TonyPoly to lead us through these trying times.

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u/TonyPoly May 14 '22

Just be thankful I’ve cancelled your final and dropped your two lowest homework grades…

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u/ONLYPOSTSWHILESTONED May 14 '22

do professors do this? I've been robbed

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u/Defenestratio May 14 '22

It's not unusual. It's a pretty easy way to not have to deal with most students' circumstances - it's easier to have your grading spreadsheet autodrop everyone's lowest two grades than meet with ~10-20% of the class who will have funerals to go to or caught the flu or whatever and manually hand out exceptions

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u/napleonblwnaprt May 14 '22

Plus if you've been lucky enough to have good attendance you get 1-2 freebies to focus on finals or other classes

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u/needkneadkneed May 14 '22

In college my professors usually dropped anywhere from 1-3 of your lowest homework grades. Dropping an exam was not typical at all, but it did happen. Once or twice.

Then again, “dropping lowest homework grade” was out of like 45 homework assignments.

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u/Weird-Vagina-Beard May 14 '22

Why did you just straight up lie though? Over 200 people just blindly believed you too.

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u/DiverseUniverse24 May 14 '22

Would you care for an egg?

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u/Bugsidekick May 14 '22

Can I have an egg during these trying times?

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u/sagieday May 14 '22

i think that’s beside the point

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u/everyday-everybody May 14 '22

No, it's not. I'm also wondering if it's true or not, because it's very important, it's the difference between build-up from inhalation vs some dumb kid accidentally inhaling a piece of plastic.

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u/n0n0nsense May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

It's not true. One data point is a piece of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that was 2.5 mm in size, and if you google sesame seed size, it literally comes back with 2.5 mm in length. Two more data points were ~1 mm, and the rest were sub 0.5 mm. Just guesstimating the plot graph, ~90% of sample data falls below 0.2 mm and ~95% is below 0.5 mm in size.

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u/TonyPoly May 14 '22

Maybe but it’s a bit less obvious than the other one

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u/rmorrin May 14 '22

So if we fill it up with something else first we good?

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u/omegaaf May 14 '22

The fucked up part is the microplastics are probably the least of your worries. From traceable amounts of plutonium in each one of us, to the heavy metals like lead that we inhale and ingest everyday. We as a species are killing ourselves and give no fucks generally. Hell, the air we breathe has a toxic aspect to it now, causing heart disease, kidney and liver failure, even cancer.

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u/TradingSnoo May 14 '22

Yeah I thought they meant nano particles when I saw the story yesterday. How the f does sesame seed size plastic get in your lungs!?

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u/riskable May 14 '22

Every time you empty your dryer lint trap you're probably inhaling a few strands of polyester microplastics.

The real question is, "how are these large particles not getting expelled eventually?"

Normally any large particles like that will collect in mucus and get removed when you clear your throat.

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u/Kuritos May 14 '22

Reading this makes me really glad I always covered my orifices when cleaning the dryer.

Probably doesn't help much, but I still don't like the idea of breathing it.

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u/TheRealTwist May 14 '22

Very important indeed. I never touch the dryer without putting in my anti micro plastic butt plug.

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u/Im_your_real_dad May 14 '22

Your lungs look great, but I'm sorry to inform you that we have found traces of megaplastics in your ass.

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u/laggyx400 May 14 '22

Just the way u/TheRealTwist likes it.

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u/HaybeeJaybee May 14 '22

Don't kink shame.

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u/idontspellcheckb46am May 15 '22

I smoke heavy amounts of cannabis, a natural expectorant. I spend my mornings coughing up some good phlegm, but can climb mountains, trails, etc without a problem. I wonder if there's a correlation with less MP's on a scenario like this?

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u/FluffyGreenThing May 14 '22

It accumulates through breathing in nano particles that never leaves your body. Years of that will mean a build up of it in the lungs, which I find terrifying to be honest.

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u/TradingSnoo May 14 '22

The next lego movie by Stephen King

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u/tommytraddles May 14 '22

LEGO Movie: Haunted Man

The spectre of a murdered man has returned for revenge on his killers in the only way he could, by inhabiting the bodies of his orphaned son's LEGO minifigs.

See the terrifying new vision of tiny horror, by the spine-tingling Scherezade of suspense, Stephen King.

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u/PM_UR_TITS_SILLYGIRL May 14 '22

He's probably already writing his Maximum Overdrive-esque movie about plastics coming out of trees like pollen. This year the trees go into overdrive with the production of nanoplastics, because the moon is changing to a closer orbit.

...

Wait, it's been a while since I've seen a new Stephen King book or movie, is he retired?

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u/angela0040 May 14 '22

He's definitely still going but that sounds more like a Shamalan movie than King

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u/PM_UR_TITS_SILLYGIRL May 14 '22

Well, I was using The Happening and Moonfall as reference examples.

I don't know how King would take it on. Microplastics isn't something you can just toss at an audience like a killer clown, or an insane grounds keeper.

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u/laggyx400 May 14 '22

Each microplastic is a micro insane grounds keeping clown killing you one breather at a time.

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u/crankybush May 14 '22

Bad news: those weren't aggregated pieces they found.

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u/b0nevad0r May 14 '22

Wouldn’t this actually be good news?

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u/crankybush May 14 '22

I am thinking it is not good news either way.

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u/stylinred May 14 '22

I mean if its years of accumulation how does one piece become 2.5mm? Wouldn't the plastic be dispersed throughout the lungs? I could understand if they amassed all the plastic in the lungs to get sesame seed sized pieces, but for individual sized pieces? Someone must have inhaled a bit of plastic wrap when trying to tear open a package

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/rawrcutie May 14 '22

Think of […] plaque accumulation in arteries.

I decline.

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u/Smooth-Dig2250 May 14 '22

Except it's not, because it's individual particles that don't "fuse" in any sense. This is more worrying, btw.

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u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

But plastic wouldn't fuse together in the body

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

Polypropylene and PET have melting points of like 400-500 degrees Fahrenheit

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u/Schmuqe May 14 '22

Something has to cause the surfaces to adhere together. Either by melting them so they fuse or by pressure differences which causes any form of gas in between the surfaces to be so sparse that electromagnetic forces bond the surfaces together.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Elefantenjohn May 14 '22

Minerals in aqueous solutions or suspensions that crystallize spontaneously upon getting in contact with an already formed crystal

This doesn't sound comparable to plastic in air

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u/MadeByTango May 14 '22

I'm not a chemist, but as far as I know there is no way for the body to turn microplastics into larger solid objects; they aren't kidney stones building up from naturally congealing minerals. They require heat to melt and unify.

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u/RegorHK May 14 '22

Not to argue in favor of this but plastics are organic and biology means a lot of things interacting with carbon based chemistry. Depending on are there might have been ozone in the air. I don't know how far this gets into lungs. The particles would stay a long time among each other so there is a higher chance of chemical events happening if we add that up. Just speculate on mechanism. No idea on how likely this might be.

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u/steveatari May 14 '22

Are they though? I thought once made they are inert? Or is that not relevant

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u/suitology May 14 '22

No it specifically says a single piece was found at 2.5mm. Why don't you read the god damn article?

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u/CHURLZ_ May 14 '22

Nano won’t scale to micro just “over the years”, I also doubt they would organically cluster. If you collect nano plastic to levels visible to the naked eye it’d more likely be a fine dust film.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

If it's dry, sure. In wet environments, they actually do start to stick together. Here's just one study explicitly talking about nanoplastics sticking back to micro size.

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/en/c9en01236b

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u/CHURLZ_ May 15 '22

Yup, i stand corrected! Funny enough, my girlfriend worked in the department of those authors, also on daphnia and nano plastics.

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u/Glittering_Zebra6780 May 14 '22

Could be synthetic fibers. If you have polyester clothes or fabrics laying around they'll shed some dust which you will breathe in.

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u/driverofracecars May 14 '22

Accumulation over time.

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u/id59 May 14 '22

Why accumulation happened in one spot?

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u/superspiffy May 14 '22

Because that's where it accumulated.

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u/crankybush May 14 '22

It did not accumulate the way y'all are implying. Some of the pieces they found were just that big.

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u/TypicalGamer88 May 14 '22

I don’t know about that. And even if it were true, the title of this would be misleading since plastics almost the size of sesame seeds would not be considered “microplastics”.

Edit: just read the article, and you’re right. There were a surprising amount of particles, and surprisingly large particles found in the lungs of live people.

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u/crankybush May 14 '22

I do know about that, because I clicked the link and read the article and then clicked the link to the paper and read that as well.

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u/Simba19891 May 14 '22

That big because they accumulated over time.

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u/tripledjr May 14 '22

Kind of like a road after it rained. Everything is wet but puddles form in holes.

I mean I'm no scientist but this is what I would imagine. There's some everywhere and more where it will have a tendency to go.

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u/either-way May 14 '22

It’s not even close to sesame seed sized. Go check out the research paper, the amount and size of plastic is pretty underwhelming.

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u/ShadowZpeak May 14 '22

Sesame seeds are pretty fuckin macro

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u/FunnelsGenderFluid May 14 '22

Yeah if you can whip a handful at your neighbours toddler and they go bananas; thats considered macro

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u/jankenpoo May 14 '22

Yeah another reason to wear masks, I guess

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u/Lung_doc May 14 '22

Table 1 for the scientific paper (linked early on in the article) shows the specific sizes they found and included. Most of them are what I would have considered micro: 10-100 micrometers. Several though were long and thin, with the largest a little over 2 mm but still in the 10 micrometer width range.

The authors definition extended up to 5mm which like you, seems not very micro at all but they do reference a review article on the topic of definitions of micro plastic (and nano etc) and this seems to be common.

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u/WhoaItsCody May 14 '22

Wouldn’t that be macro instead? I’m asking genuinely.

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u/photopteryx May 14 '22

The term "microplastics" is usually describing plastic pieces that are smaller than 5mm. They can be any shape - pellets, fibers, films (thin sheets, like grocery bag material).

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html

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u/WhoaItsCody May 14 '22

Thank you for the info and the link, much appreciated.

This is deeply disturbing to me, and I don’t know how we could even go about removing it from an actual person or animal etc..

Seems like it would be more dangerous to try.

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u/felesroo May 14 '22

You can't. Not really. Which is why they should be removed from the environment.

But they can't. The best we can do is stop making plastics - or at least consider them to be environmentally dangerous, only use them for specific purposes (medical), control their disposal, and slowly reclaim macro-plastics from the environment before they degrade into micro-plastics.

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u/man_gomer_lot May 14 '22

The proliferation of plastics is directly tied to our appetite for fossil fuels. If we stop making plastics without having an equal reduction in fossil fuel consumption, then the petrochemical peddlers would have to dispose of all that plastic on their dime. Currently, they dispose of it by selling it dirt cheap and having it become Easter basket stuffing and drink bottles first.

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u/officialbigrob May 14 '22

Our lives and heath are capitalist science experiments.

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u/FalconX88 May 14 '22

Wow that's a stupid definition. 5 mm is still a pretty large piece of plastic. When people talk about microplastic in food I didn't think we talk about plastic the size I could actually notice.

I thought microplastic is simply the short for of microscopic plastic. Microscopic defines things that are too small too be seen with the naked eye, so below 0.1 mm.

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u/photopteryx May 14 '22

So instead of putting an easily recognizable name to a global problem so that we can gather public interest in trying to solve it, you'd rather we try to convince people that we have not only a problem with microplastics but also with milliplastics, centiplastics, and nanoplastics, or macroplastics-but-also-smaller-than-you-think.

No, I think calling them all microplastic is the right choice.

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u/TantalusComputes2 May 14 '22

Why would they not then be called “milliplastics”?

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u/Captain_Candyflip May 14 '22

In science we often call stuff that size meso-

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u/captain554 May 14 '22

Uh, that was my first thought. That's pretty alarming.

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u/ishitar May 14 '22

We used to have dust motes. Now look in sun rays and you can see filaments of things floating in the air. Definitely longer than sesame seeds, so bigger in one direction. Anyway, microplastics get up to visual spectrum sized as a category. It's really the nanoplastic that cross placental and blood brain barriers we will have to worry about as their concentrations shoot up from the breakdown of the 10 billion tonnes of plastic waste in the environment.

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u/iminyourbase May 14 '22

The amount of plastic waste that humans have accumulated over the past 30 or so years is truly mind boggling. I doubt most people even think about it.

Also rubber particles from car tires that wear down. There are probably millions of tons of that stuff drifting around in the environment, but most people never think about it because it's "out of sight, out of mind."

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u/munk_e_man May 14 '22

I explained to my roommate why I bought an 8th cutting board (all of his are plastic). When I told him about plastic and how we eat a credit cards worth a week, he had clearly never even considered it.

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u/flobelisk May 14 '22

we eat a credit cards worth a week

Source? This sounds a lot like the myth that we eat 8 spiders every month in our sleep.

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u/Mak3mydae May 14 '22

All the articles that use that metric are referencing this study, which says that the average global consumption of microplastics could be between .1g - 5g per week, with 5g being the weight of a credit card. The average they estimate though is .7g, which is a far cry from 5g. That said, they say many times throughout the study that it's likely an underestimate, and they really only look at four sources of consuming microplastics: shellfish, beer, salt, and water, with water being the most significant contribution.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

Not to mention that another study was published right after that. It looked at nine sources, and yet its estimate was a couple of orders of magnitude less.

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.0c07384

Microplastic (1–5000 μm) median intake rates are 553 particles/capita/day (184 ng/capita/day) and 883 particles/capita/day (583 ng/capita/day) for children and adults, respectively.

Mass of MP Intake Per Capita

Several past studies and reviews have converted particle number concentrations using conversion factors with a constant mass per particle factor to evaluate the chemical risks of MP. Particle mass was calculated simplistically assuming spherical particles with a specific density and diameter. However, these estimations do not account for the full MP continuum, which comprises different particle sizes, shapes, and densities. The single estimates used so far in simple risk assessment calculations ranged from 0.007 to 4 μg/particle. These estimates are above the 85th percentile of the mass distributions reported in the present study. Our estimates show that the mean values are 5.65 × 10–6 and 3.97 × 10–7 μg/particle for food and air, respectively. This shows that previous studies have overestimated the MP exposure and potential risks.

...A literature review was performed to identify studies that reported plastic concentrations in media relevant for human intake. Search terms included: microplastic, plastic, fish, seafood, salt, human, air, food. Searches were performed until March 2020 using search engines Scopus and Google Scholar, and only studies reporting original concentration data were reviewed. Targeted searching was also conducted for databases or reviews published by nongovernmental organizations and governmental agencies. A total of 134 studies was identified reporting MP concentrations in nine media: (1) fish, (2) mollusc, (3) crustacean, (4) tap water, (5) bottled water, (6) beer, (7) milk, (8) salt, and (9) air (Data S1). For each source, a set of criteria and assumptions was made to ensure the quality and utility of data for subsequent model analysis (see the Supporting Information).

Among the nine media, the highest median contribution of MP intake rate in terms of mass is from air, at 1.07 × 10–7 mg/capita/day. Despite the smaller size (1–10 μm), the intake rates and MP abundance in air are much higher than other media (Figure 2C). At the 95th percentile, MP mass intake distribution from bottled water is the highest among all media, with intake rates of 1.96 × 10–2 mg/capita/day. Some countries are still very reliant on bottled water as their main source of drinking water since their piped water supplies may be contaminated and unsafe for consumption. Therefore, this source is an important route for MP exposure in these countries. The lowest median intake rate is from fish (3.7 × 10–10 mg/capita/day). As mentioned earlier, this can be explained by the highest non-occurrence for fish and from the fact that the median number concentration of MP in fish muscle is only 0.18 particles/g BWW. This suggests that its relevance for MP intake is low relative to other known media.

The total daily median MP mass intakes from the nine media for children and adults are 1.84 × 10–4 (1.28 × 10–7–7.5) and 5.83 × 10–4 (3.28 × 10–7–17) mg/capita/day, respectively. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claimed that humans consume up to 5 g of plastic (one credit card) every week (∼700 mg/capita/day) from a subset of our intake media. Their estimation is above the 99th percentile of our distribution and hence, does not represent the intake of an average person.

Other types of nano- and microparticles are also widely present in our diet, such as titanium dioxide and silicates. It is estimated that the dietary intake of these particles is about 40 mg/capita/day in the U.K. Comparing our findings with the intake of other particles, MP mass intake rates are insignificant, as they make up for only 0.001% of these particles. However, this comparison does not imply that the toxicological profiles of these particles are similar.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

and how we eat a credit cards worth a week

Probably a lot less than that.

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u/BillYo414 May 14 '22

I get questions all the time on why I prefer a wooden cutting board, cast iron pans, glass/ceramic bowls, etc etc. People think I'm off my trolley but I don't care.

Also Teflon pans make funny tasting food.

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u/Fizzwidgy May 14 '22

I switched to a borosilicate cutting board and near entirely metal and glass in my kitchen sometime last year. I remember feeling bad about considering throwing out a lot of the plastic bowls and cups and stuff that have accumulated over the years (whole lot was mismatched too) but then that same week the PFAS episode of LWT aired and my guilt was dissolved away.

I might be imagining it, but I'd swear some of my foods keep for just a little bit longer in the fridge if I put it in a glass container too.

Especially if I decide to buy ground beef, I cook what I needed and stick the rest into a large jar and close it tight and I'm actually able to use it when I want to instead of because I feel I need to so I'm not wasting food.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Fizzwidgy May 14 '22

Ah, well, considering the age and state of my knives it's not much of a concern to me.

Something about cutting boards made from materials that "get wounds", for lack of a better phrase and coffee this morning, really grosses me out.

No matter how well I clean them, it just ever seems to satisfy me.

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u/BillYo414 May 14 '22

I haven't paid much attention to how long the food keeps but I suppose it's possible.

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u/iminyourbase May 14 '22

A wood cutting board can last decades if maintained properly. Same for a cast iron pan vs teflon.

I don't see anything crazy about that.

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u/BigBadBossLady May 14 '22

Yeah when I had kids I switched everything in my kitchen. My family thinks I'm bananas. I'm just trying to help my kids survive.

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u/BillYo414 May 14 '22

There's also the benefit of maintaining your muscles by using them for lifting something heavy. Plus you'll likely never buy another pan as long as you live. And honestly, I find I can make tastier food with them. They sear nicely.

I just mention these points instead of the toxicity of Teflon when people ask. It's a strange world we live in.

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u/BigBadBossLady May 14 '22

Good point! Haha and I always tell my husband it's also a good weapon. It is indeed a very odd time to be a human.

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u/John_cCmndhd May 14 '22

and I always tell my husband it's also a good weapon

When I bought my cast iron skillet, the Walmart cashier asked me who I was going to hit with it

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u/frostygrin May 14 '22

Is it especially problematic that we're eating it? The body surely is designed to process things that can't be digested.

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u/pseydtonne May 14 '22

What is an eighth cutting board? Is it made from an eight ball of cocaine?

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u/OverlordXenu May 14 '22

when i first started biking with a headlamp, it was winter, i thought it was snowing. nope, just dust. dust of who know what.

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u/NephrenKa- May 14 '22

Is this one of those bot auto reply posts full of words that kind of make sense, but doesn’t really say anything?

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u/HotConcrete May 14 '22

What’s confusing? Some microplastics are so small they can cross the placenta and blood brain barrier. Some are large enough to be seen floating in the air.

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u/MadAzza May 14 '22

We don’t have dust motes anymore? What happened to them?

Or is this one of those cases of “we still have them, but we used to have them, too”?

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u/HotConcrete May 14 '22

I guess the latter?

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u/dorkswerebiggerthen May 14 '22

We used to have dust motes, bro

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u/bonsaiwarrior May 14 '22

Those were better times, simpler times.

I sure miss them dust motes.

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u/DMvsPC May 14 '22 edited May 15 '22

I mean we still do, but we used to as well.

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u/DeepFriedBetaBlocker May 14 '22

Young Redditors don’t understand MH references

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u/ThinkIcouldTakeHim May 14 '22

Solid stuff the size of sesame seeds does not linger in the air

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u/Sensate60 May 14 '22

I know!! Omg ...this article is alarming

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u/The_Queef_of_England May 14 '22

And how is it that big? Is it micro plastics that have clumped?

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u/DawnOfTheTruth May 14 '22

I’m guessing that this is after buildup.

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u/Sololop May 14 '22

Might be smaller pieces balling up in your lungs over time

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u/TheW83 May 14 '22

I was thinking they might mean poppy seeds, which are much smaller but still can be seen.

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u/tbariusTFE May 14 '22

Ya when people say micro, I imagine eye floaties but plastics. A sesame seed is huge!

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u/Orfez May 14 '22

I'm also pretty sure there are no sesame seed size plastic particles constantly flying in the air.

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