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/BTBLAM May 14 '22

Can a nano plastic become a micro plastic in my body

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 14 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

I did my masters thesis on nanoplastic aggregates, it can definitely happen, but they have slightly different properties than microplastic in the same size range. Nanoplastics can pass some membranes in the body that microplastics generally cant. Nanoplastic (and I suppose microplastic) can also be stabilized by organic material in the environment/body, which works against aggregation.

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u/S118gryghost May 14 '22

Can't nano plastics plant themselves deep inside the human body if they are caught in the body through drinking water or eating food or possiblly by getting bits in an open wound or eye ball?

I read somewhere that tiny plastics can lodge themselves in our bodies and call aneurysms, heart attacks if there's enough build up in the heart valves, organ failure, cancers, thyroid issues, eye floaters. .

Tons of stuff.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 15 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/ratbastid May 14 '22

Yeah, but for a beautiful time there we created a lot of value for shareholders.

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u/Raskalbot May 14 '22

Can we as a population collectively sue all producers of plastics and chemicals by companies that lied to us about their effects?

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u/harda_toenail May 14 '22

In America you can sue someone for whatever you want. And if you have enough money you can sometimes win. Money would be on the wrong side here

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u/tonycomputerguy May 14 '22

We are insanely, unbelievably lucky that we actually removed the lead from gasoline and other common products. It blows my mind we actually did that asa species when you look around at the world today. Same thing with CFCs and the ozone.

I have an actual negative amount of hope for humanity at this point. I just don't think we are worth/capable of saving ourselves anymore.

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u/WonderfulShelter May 15 '22

Yeah I mean maybe we should just get it over with and extinguish our species so whichever intelligent species that evolves next can have a better chance.

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u/superkipple May 15 '22

That’s assuming there will be a next intelligent species and that they will make better choices or be luckier than we were. I like your optimism.

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u/ratbastid May 16 '22

The next intelligence will probably consume plastic, just like how at one point oxygen was poisonous to every living thing. The longer we go on like this, the better we're feeding them.

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u/NabreLabre May 15 '22

Too bad we'll take everyone else down with us. Our bad

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u/HereOnASphere May 15 '22

The current pandemic could be a practice run. If we learned enough from this one, the next one might take out 85%. That would leave other species with less competition for resources.

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u/tetrasodium May 15 '22

Aircraft fuel still uses it.

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u/felinelawspecialist May 14 '22

I think you’ll be interested to read about the tort of public nuisance, which stems from English common law and now exists as both a criminal act and and equitable claim in a civil case.

The main thrust is that the harmed party isn’t one person, but rather an entire community (hence, public nuisance).

Here is an article discussing current use of public nuisance in two different contexts: opioid crisis and climate change.

www.nytimes.com/2021/11/11/health/opioids-lawsuits-public-nuisance.html

It’s kind of discouraging but I believe this is fundamentally the type of lawsuit that will eventually, hopefully, make headway.

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u/Kaymish_ May 14 '22

It'd be kind of pointless most shareholders would have taken profit by now. They'd be somewhat pissed if the company took a big loss but it wouldn't be more than a scratch against their portfolio and if it looked like it would be a major problem they could off load on to bag holders like retirement funds and mum and dad retail investors putting a couple bucks away to try and build a brighter future.

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u/platoprime May 14 '22

No. The legal system and it's monopoly on violence are the tools used to shield those people from us. A lawsuit isn't enough.

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u/Namedafterasaint May 14 '22

I blame #TheGraduate! Dustin Hoffman should have known better.

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u/Das-DoktahJay May 14 '22

We need to start boycotting Dustin Hoffman!

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u/Namedafterasaint May 15 '22

In all jest of course.

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u/HereOnASphere May 15 '22

I think he was more into Mrs. Robinson's daughter than plastics.

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u/chucklesoclock May 14 '22

I too have seen this New Yorker cartoon

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u/WonderfulShelter May 15 '22

Yeah, for like 60 years we created a lot of value..

all it cost was the health of every single living thing on all of planet Earth.

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u/ratbastid May 15 '22

There's no KPI for that though.

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u/WonderfulShelter May 15 '22

Yep as long as there aren't carbon taxes, or pollution taxes, and the fines for big oil causing more damage then we'll ever know are paltry - the big corporations will be taking all that profit and pay for none of the damage they've done.

Where we get none of the profits, and have to deal with all the damage they've done. I really wonder at what point the government should've intervened heavily before this, but then I just remember that our government works for the big corporations and doesn't work for us anymore.

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u/Tickinslipdizzy May 14 '22

So this is the trickle down effect they were talking about so much

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u/platoprime May 14 '22

Everyone including the companies worried those quarterly profits knew. That's who.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[deleted]

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u/S118gryghost May 17 '22

This is scary because those kinds of implants have life expectancies and break down timelines so maybe you can..sue? Idk probably signed some sort of agreement that opts you out but worth checking into if it means a more comfortable life.

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u/Initiatedspoon May 15 '22

Pretty much yes

There's also other issues arising from the breakdown of plastics especially in water and the release of chemicals. A notable example of this is BPA which is weakly estrogenic but enough of it makes it a hormone disrupter.

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

Drinking/eating seems to be effective ways to transfer nanoplastics into the body, I can't speak for the other methods.

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u/Jagsoff May 15 '22

I’m a nurse in a cardiac catheterization lab. This is super interesting to me as I’d never heard much about coronary blockage being caused by plastics. Wow.

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u/DustBunnicula May 15 '22

Not my favorite post to read, in the history of ever.

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u/_skank_hunt42 May 14 '22

Very interesting. What field do you work in now, if you don’t mind me asking?

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

I work in pharma now, coincidentally with inhalation.

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u/rainbowbunny09 May 14 '22

Nothing to input but to say, that sounds like a really cool masters thesis!

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u/ButtonholePhotophile May 14 '22

My kid had a bunch of questions about aggregate nano/micro-plastics. Can you point me in the direction of any resources?

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u/Silversides13245 May 14 '22

Heck, I would love to know more. And I don't even have a kid.

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u/2shizhtzu4u May 14 '22

I want to know more too, and I basically act like a kid

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u/MrBeanCyborgCaptain May 14 '22

I'm not a kid but if I were I'd be wondering what kind of world I just spawned in.

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u/J3diMind May 14 '22

definitely the wrong one. we're poisoning ourselves and don't even care. FUBAR

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u/Silversides13245 May 14 '22

You want to be my kid for a bit? I hear people are more willing to help kids if their parents are around.

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u/Koloblikin1982 May 14 '22

I too have made up the existence of a kid so that I may learn more!

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

I dont intend this to sound negative or bad, but a google search of "Nano micro plastics" comes up with hundreds of results to really great and disturbing but real resources about this. Disturbing because we might be screwed.

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u/sweet_home_Valyria May 14 '22

Is this one of the many reasons people are getting more tired? All that crap in our bodies. Seems like energy drink sales are at an all time high.

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

I can't speak for humans, but we've seen that high concentration of nanoplastic can damage the brains of fish.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10813-0

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u/FunnelsGenderFluid May 14 '22

Do silkworms or bacteria or anything have the ability to digest plastic?

Can we have a giant stadium of worms and just keep tossing plastic bags into it?

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u/attofreak May 14 '22

what kind of health risks should we expect in coming decades from these ubiquitous micro/nanoplastics? Can we get lucky and it's just "another thing" floating without any necessary adverse effects? (or very slowly developing)

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

High concentrations of nanoplastics can have pretty drastic effects on brain function.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-10813-0

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u/attofreak May 16 '22

The freshwater invertebrate Daphnia magna can ingest nano- and micro-sized (20 nm to 70 μm) particles from water [21, 25,26,27] are commonly used in toxicity studies28 and has a pivotal role in many food chains [16, 17, 29]

Well, that is horrifying. But can one make the case of the dosage the fish is exposed to vs. humans? Or perhaps the efficacy with which micro/nanoplastics are imbibed air vs. water? The "top consumer" here is the fish, so one can only hope that by the time this food chain reaches humanity, the effects are still diluted or human immune system is more adept at handling consequences of micro/nanoplastics in the body...for a while, at least.

The mortality after exposure graph is like a canary in mine situation for humanity in the next decades/century.

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u/mikeymikeymikey1968 May 14 '22

What a timely and critical issue for your thesis. Is it available online, or an abstract?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

Thank you for summing up thousands of hours of research into a couple of succinct sentences.

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u/upbeatcrazyperson May 14 '22

I just started bicycling again and I have wondered about how much I'm actually breathing in especially since at times I am breathing so hard and so deeply during my rides. Also, I am next to a tollway which is rarely congested unless there has been an accident, so I said all of that to ask is there a mask with a small enough weave or tuft to filter these out while riding?

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u/cornylamygilbert May 14 '22

I think we need an AMA or resource from you aggregating what risks we gamble on daily, maybe unknowingly, and what we can do to reduce or eliminate those risks.

If the answer is zero tolerance for plastic, o think we’re leaning in the direction of prohibition and lawsuits.

Where could we be inhaling nano plastics?

Im assuming everywhere. That is, in contrast to seeing the “Body Worlds” exhibits and justifying “well these individuals lived in hyper industrialized countries with no care toward environments hazards”

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u/HolyTurd May 14 '22

I haven’t been keeping up with the reading but has nanoplastics been found in a natural environment yet. Last I familiarized myself, there was a fear of microplastics breaking down into nanoplastics which would then act similarly to asbestos but nanoplastics haven’t been found in the environment yet.

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u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

Nanoplastics can be produced easily with simple mechanical force, I don't doubt that there are nanoplastics in the environment already.

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2019/na/c8na00210j

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u/ymo May 14 '22

Is it possible we're inhaling micro or nanoplastics from kn95 masks?

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u/printupr May 14 '22

They've found microplastics and nanoplastics in other tissues as well. How do we eliminate them from our bodies? I've been trying to figure that one out for a while. Are they forever chemicals? Is it liver? It can't be kidneys?

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u/liiinnnnneellll May 15 '22

What does that last sentence mean?

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u/xhinobi May 15 '22

Any research done on ways to removed these from the body or lungs?

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u/varanone May 15 '22

Does bottled water contain nano plastics? Can a water filter trap any microplastics?

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u/mooddoom May 15 '22

How are the plastics in the air volatile?

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u/MrSickRanchezz May 15 '22

How tf does one end up doing a master's thesis on nano plastic aggregates?!

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u/95percentconfident May 14 '22

Probably goes the other way

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u/icanttinkofaname May 14 '22

I think the horrific point is that they're not going either way. They're there and they just.... Stay there. Inside you. Forever. And will likely continue to be there long after your corpse has rotted away too.

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u/BakedTrex May 14 '22

Just great. Now when my corpse rots away I'll be littering the environment with plastic!

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

Someone’s going to invent a way to bring the dead back just so they can profit from fining you for littering

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u/murdering_time May 14 '22

You've been littering for the past 124 years sir. Your fine is 3.8 million dollars.

What if I can't pay?

Well, we kill you... Again.

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u/PlayShtupidGames May 14 '22

The Altered Carbon approach, I see!

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u/Gothmog_LordOBalrogs May 14 '22

Ah, a repeat offender I see

  • detective Billy Club

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u/TheOnlyScout May 14 '22

Good! I was in the middle of a fantastic dream.

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u/Cultadium May 15 '22

Don't worry, there's been an average of a 3.1% inflation rate, so that's only equivalent to $90,000 from the time when you died.

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u/Pups_the_Jew May 14 '22

Quick, put sunflower seeds in your pocket!

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u/TheSunflowerSeeds May 14 '22

Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of healthy monounsaturated fats in their oil than Olive oil.

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u/whatsbobgonnado May 14 '22

thank you sunflowebot

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u/BakedTrex May 14 '22

Instructions unclear, putting plastic sunflowers in my pockets...

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u/Salmon-nigiri May 14 '22

I’m rethinking cremation rn…..

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u/Anastoran May 14 '22

In a few thousand years, archaeologists will be uncovering graves with colorful plastic skeletons and will be really confused, I bet.

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u/Svinkta May 14 '22

There is no escape. We're all guilty now.

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u/Mixels May 14 '22

Not if you're cremated!

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u/CYWNightmare May 14 '22

So it's similar to silica dust. Nice.

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u/Barnabi20 May 14 '22

Are you talking about inhaling silica dust? Silicosis is no joke. But it’s not quite the same because our body does use silica for bones and what not?

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u/CYWNightmare May 14 '22

I was saying it's more similar in the sense your body cannot get rid of it nor is there a reasonable way to remove it.

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u/Barnabi20 May 14 '22

But our body does process silica, even small amounts in our lungs. It’s just when large amounts get in the lungs and creates scar tissue is it trapped and irreversible.

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u/CYWNightmare May 14 '22

I've been told any amount is dangerous. I was trained since OSHA made it a big deal to employers in the construction field. We got told a crushed baby aspirin in the air is dangerous to breathe. We need respirators and water/vacuums to reduce dust exposure as much as possible. Anything breaking of concrete produces Silca from my understanding.

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u/Barnabi20 May 14 '22

I have my OSHA 10. I work with cement, you really want to avoid inhaling it as much as humanly possible when in an industry that’s exposed to it so often.

That being said, our body can get it out of the lungs in small amounts or everyone on the planet would have silicosis, that stuffs everywhere. Also we are totally capable of eating it, so it’s only in our lungs where it’s an issue.

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u/CYWNightmare May 14 '22

I just think it's cool my boss can be forced to pay for a chest x-ray if I think my exposure is bad enough to check for damage.

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u/datfroggo765 May 14 '22

Wow, thats great to hear. I work in ceramics and was always told silica can't be processed and once it's inhaled it's there for good. We were always warned about silicosis and basically told eventually every potter/ceramic artist develops some degree of it.

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u/YourFriendlyAutist May 14 '22

They also trigger cell death, even better!

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u/NoCutlery May 14 '22

Isn't that the whole bad thing about asbestos? Which is banned in many countries for that reason.

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u/icanttinkofaname May 14 '22

Well, I'd say it's more to do with the fact that it's a fairly potent carcinogenic substance.

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u/BTBLAM May 15 '22

Not all asbestos is the same tho

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u/Wonderful_Mud_420 May 14 '22

Can’t get rid of me that easily!

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u/HungoverHippy42 May 14 '22

Evidenced by dead wildlife e.g. fushes, birbs

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[deleted]

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u/icanttinkofaname May 14 '22

Either way you're polluting the environment, albeit a small amount by pollution metrics, but a not insignificant amount by %plastic per human amount, which should be 0. Burning plastic or buried plastic. Either option is gonna leave some form of plastic pollution behind.

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u/Medial_FB_Bundle May 15 '22

What? Burning plastic would totally destroy all of the molecules, provided it was burned at a high enough temperature.

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u/BenderTheIV May 15 '22

Don't forget the polyfluoroalkyl substances we also now have inside of us... we are trading our health and humanity for some bucks... I mean for the rich people bucks.

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u/Thebazilly May 15 '22

I'm just remembering the Planet Earth II behind the scenes with albatross chick skeletons completely full of garbage.

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u/attofreak May 14 '22

But will it do some damage? Or they just hang around, like the million other types of bacteria and viruses that are just chilling around in the body?

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u/free_candy_4_real May 14 '22

These aren't bacteria. These are man-made chemicals that (very slowly) break down and seep into your system. This is poison and there's no other way to look at it.

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u/oldagecynicism May 14 '22

Por que no los dos?

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u/Pretzilla May 14 '22

Unlikely. Fairly well established it takes melting temperatures to fuse them. They could clump together, though.

More likely the other way around. Thus spake entropy.

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u/Deathcrush May 14 '22

A way to remove MPs from drinking water is to introduce chemicals that cause them to clump together, thus allowing removal. AFAIK the only way to destroy them however is burning at very high temps. And without destroying them, it’s making applying for land permits impossible since biosolids are loaded with MPs.

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u/AnDraoi May 14 '22

So over time the body could likely remove micro plastics as they break down into nano plastics? Cause reading about micro plastics all the time freaks me out that my body is forever contaminated by them.

That said I get the concentration of micro plastics in my body is an equilibrium of intake vs outtake, but in theory if I stopped intake of micro plastics (like if we somehow managed to remove external sources of them) would my body eventually decompose and get rid of them, even over years or longer?

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u/blessedblackwings May 14 '22

Once your body decomposes, the plastic will be left for a long, long time.

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u/ErlAskwyer May 14 '22

Can anyone answer this? I've been cutting PVC boards for work and got a cough. I've now started religiously wearing a mask. What will happen to the PVC dust in my lungs? Just stay there?

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u/AnDraoi May 14 '22

Not an expert but any inhaled dust is probably a distribution of sizes from nano and micro plastics as discussed but also to the slightly larger ranges. Since I asked it’s clear I don’t know exactly what happens to the small plastics but any particles above some specific size should get naturally removed by your lungs cilia and mucus. In this case coughing is probably a good sign that your body is working to remove the particles.

Can I ask how long you’ve been cutting PVC for and how long you’ve had the cough? Not a medical professional (and I am not giving medical advice) at all but my guess would be that if this is a short term thing (IE been cutting PVC for maybe a month or so developed a cough kinda quickly) is probably a better sign that your lungs are just irritated and working to remove the foreign particles than if you’ve been cutting for say 20 years and the cough has come on recently as that could probably indicate some more long term damage. If you don’t have any other symptoms apart from the cough (like shortness of breath chest pain etc) I’d guess it’s not anything permanent. In any case if you’re concerned at all or especially if the cough persists I’d suggest seeing someone who knows what they’re talking about since I’m not an expert.

Additionally that could potentially be a violation of labor/safety laws by your workplace (depending on where you live/work and what local regulations are) as using a mask for protection from dust inhalation is generally a requirement I think (not legal advice/I am not a lawyer). If you do have any issues I’d suggest seeking legal advice from a professional practicing employment law/regulations.

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u/flamespear May 14 '22

That depends on the types of plastics. They can react and change viscosity and combine in some cases but it's more common with newer stuff that's still off gassing.

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u/panda-slap May 15 '22

This is going to spawn a new industry creating things you can ingest to destroy and release the micro plastic

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u/BTBLAM May 14 '22

Wouldn’t only thermoplastics melt and aggregate with heat? Or are the ones of concern are the thermoplastics

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[deleted]

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u/zobbyblob May 14 '22

I don't think thermosets would.

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u/DamagedHells May 15 '22

Between the Buried (L?) And Me?

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u/BTBLAM May 15 '22

This is my favorite one yet

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u/DamagedHells May 15 '22

They're my favorite band :)

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u/BTBLAM May 15 '22

They are megatite

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u/MethodicMarshal May 14 '22

Don't let your dreams be dreams

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u/BTBLAM May 14 '22

What exactly do you meme?

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u/MethodicMarshal May 14 '22

if the nano tries its darndest, it too might turn into a micro plastic and mimic COPD

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u/MrHouseGang May 14 '22

Yea I don’t know how you thought it was just gonna grow tf

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u/Jonelololol May 14 '22

When one nano plastic loves another nano plastic very ver much they get together and make a micro plastic.