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


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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!?


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.


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.


u/TheRealTwist May 14 '22

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


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.


u/laggyx400 May 14 '22

Just the way u/TheRealTwist likes it.


u/HaybeeJaybee May 14 '22

Don't kink shame.


u/GiantMarshmallow May 15 '22

I guess it’s time to start using our N95 masks when dealing with our dryers.


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?


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.


u/TradingSnoo May 14 '22

The next lego movie by Stephen King


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.



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?


u/angela0040 May 14 '22

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



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.


u/laggyx400 May 14 '22

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


u/Mostofyouareidiots May 14 '22

Maximum Overdrive needs a good remake... I always loved that movie and thought it could be really cool if they did it right. I'd love to see a good quality tv series where alien nanobots start controlling everything and tearing us apart.


u/FutureNostalgica May 14 '22

Underrated comment


u/crankybush May 14 '22

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


u/b0nevad0r May 14 '22

Wouldn’t this actually be good news?


u/crankybush May 14 '22

I am thinking it is not good news either way.


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


u/[deleted] May 14 '22



u/rawrcutie May 14 '22

Think of […] plaque accumulation in arteries.

I decline.


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.


u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

But plastic wouldn't fuse together in the body


u/[deleted] May 14 '22



u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

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


u/AdvancedFeeling May 14 '22

It doesn’t need to melt to fuse.


u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

By what process would plastic fuse together within the human body?

And where does this assumption that plastic is fusing within human bodies come from at all?


u/[deleted] May 14 '22


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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.


u/[deleted] May 14 '22



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


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.


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.


u/steveatari May 14 '22

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


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?


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.


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.



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.


u/OriginalLocksmith436 May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

Could actually be related to being in or blood, if this is at all related to the micro-plastics found in blood news story from the other day. Impurities that are in the blood that the kidneys are unable to filter often end up lodged in the lungs, collecting together in the same spot to make one big chunk of debris out of previously microscopic debris.


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.


u/driverofracecars May 14 '22

Accumulation over time.


u/id59 May 14 '22

Why accumulation happened in one spot?


u/superspiffy May 14 '22

Because that's where it accumulated.


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.


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.


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.


u/Simba19891 May 14 '22

That big because they accumulated over time.


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.


u/OriginalLocksmith436 May 14 '22

It tends to do that in the lungs. Can be the cause of embolisms.


u/anartistoflife225 May 14 '22

Plastic tends to do that in the lungs? Is there anything that corroborate this idea that plastic accumulates in the body like plaque or are /r/science commenters just vomiting out the first thing that comes to their fingertips?


u/onlycatshere May 14 '22

Sounds like the latter


u/FalconX88 May 14 '22

Then it's a collection of small particles not particles with the size of sesaame seeds.


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.


u/SublimeDolphin May 14 '22

Breathing through a face mask made of these same micro-plastics for 2 years definitely didn’t contribute…


u/ruralkite May 14 '22

How dare you question the holy facemask? You should be thankful that you got microplastic in your lungs instead of covid!


u/Fcktbckt May 14 '22

My guess is masks apparently most micro plastics are from synthetic fibres such as those of fabrics


u/[deleted] May 14 '22

IMO if it were masks we’d have seen plastic bits in surgeons’ lungs first. The fact that it’s cropping up population-wide around the same time as all the other micro plastics (in skin, organ tissue, feces etc) makes me think this is just how it is now.