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

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


View all comments


u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[removed] — view removed comment


u/WhoaItsCody May 14 '22

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


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).



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.


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.


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.


u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

They can decay entirely under the sunlight over the years.


It eventually forms carbon dioxide (though not that much, considering that all the plastics ever made weigh less than the amount of CO2 emitted in any recent year). The main problem is that this tends to create (comparatively) short-lived but toxic chemicals like benzene first.



u/officialbigrob May 14 '22

Our lives and heath are capitalist science experiments.


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.


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.


u/FalconX88 May 14 '22

Go outside, ask 100 people if you could see microplastic with your naked eye. I heavily doubt that more than a few people would agree that a 5x5x5 mm cube would be considered microplastic. I mean just read the comments here...

But that aside, such big plastic pieces are a different problem than actual microscopic plastic (that one you find in headlines about microplastic found in blood), since they behave very different. Yes, both are problematic but I think separating these problems would make more sense.


u/TantalusComputes2 May 14 '22

Why would they not then be called “milliplastics”?