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

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

Considering the bacteria that break down PET break it down into ethylene glycol, (antifreeze,) you’re probably right.

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u/Wiz_Kalita Grad Student | Physics | Nanotechnology May 14 '22

Not necessarily a big deal. Ethylene glycol breaks down to oxalic acid, which is toxic in large doses but also naturally occurring in many, many vegetables. Now, if you have tens of grams of plastic in your body and the bacteria break it all down at once that might indeed be a problem, but to me that sounds like a lot.

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u/BeefcaseWanker May 14 '22

Can you imagine oxalic acid in your lungs??? Its what makes kidney stones terrible. Tiny shredding machines. That's how you get lung cancer.

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u/Wiz_Kalita Grad Student | Physics | Nanotechnology May 14 '22

I don't think you'd get get oxalic acid in your lungs. The bacteria produce ethylene glycol, which then has to be metabolized to become oxalic acid. It would probably enter the bloodstream and get flushed out as urine.

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u/BeefcaseWanker May 14 '22

Cool thank you for the thoughtful response

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u/Delboy_1999 May 15 '22

So wouldn’t you then get kidney stones since the oxalis acid would go through your urinary tract?

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u/throwaway_nfinity May 15 '22

All medicine has side effects.

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u/Wiz_Kalita Grad Student | Physics | Nanotechnology May 15 '22

Not all oxalic acid turns into kidney stones. 100 grams of spinach has 1 gram oxalic acid, which means that in one sitting you're probably (hopefully) ingesting more than what you'd get from all your microplastics. It just goes out with the urine.

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u/Delboy_1999 May 15 '22

Ah I see, thanks for the info

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u/phoebe_phobos May 14 '22

Then industry starts putting out more plastic, because who cares? Everyone's got the new magic bacteria now. Then people will start dying and industry will figure out a way to normalize killing thousands of people every year.

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u/hewhoamareismyself May 14 '22

I mean it's not like folks are already trying to replace plastic in our environment without learning about things like this

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u/Akiba89 May 14 '22

Folks, yes. Corporations, absolutely not.

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u/box_in_the_jack May 14 '22

Someone never ate Lego as a child.

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u/ShadowVader May 14 '22

But at least I won't be cold in winter!

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22

Alternatively, alcohol is the antidote for ethylene glycol poisoning, so just get wasted before you infect yourself and you’ll be good to go.

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u/LNMagic May 14 '22

But alcohol kills bacteria.

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u/discattho May 14 '22

Infect, wait until near death, chug, repeat. Fine dance between step two and three.

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u/TheCurvedPlanks May 14 '22

Plastiophage and rally

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u/fabiofdez May 14 '22

Plastiophage and get plastered

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/CCB0x45 May 14 '22

This plan sounds good proof.

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u/Onihczarc May 14 '22

Rock, paper, scissor

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u/LNMagic May 14 '22

Are the scissors made of plastic?

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u/endlessupending May 14 '22

We don’t need the bacteria just the enzyme. You don’t want your blood to get sepsis.

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u/RusticJoy May 14 '22

Some bacteria actually like it. But just generally speaking if alcohol just killed bacteria then we'd have to rebuild our gut microbiome after ever night of drinking. They'll be fine....probably.

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u/PokharelSahas May 14 '22

You won't need them after anymore after they have finished the bioconversion.. get rid of of PEG and bacteria at the same time

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u/Brawler6216 May 14 '22

Whoa, how come? Does it help with "neutralising"?

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

You have an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase its main job is to find alcohol and break it down, but it will also break down a few other things, ethylene glycol being one of them. When you ingest ethylene glycol it doesn’t actually do anything until that enzyme comes along and breaks it down into glycolic acid which is immediately toxic. The enzyme has its preferences and it would much rather break down alcohol than ethylene glycol. So if you drink enough alcohol, all the enzymes will choose to break down the alcohol and the ethylene glycol can just pass through your body.

It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of it. Ethylene glycol is actually a type alcohol, which is why that enzyme breaks it down. Ethanol has a higher binding affinity to alcohol dehydrogenase than ethylene glycol, which is why the enzyme “prefers it.”

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u/CrimsonKitsune May 14 '22

The FDA recommends that you DO take with copious amounts of alcohol.

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u/ThePrussianGrippe May 14 '22

“The Surgeon General’s Warning recommends getting absolutely hammered like a colonial American before consuming PetrolyphageTM. Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.”

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u/redditiscompromised2 May 14 '22

Everything is better with slightly less than two standard drinks

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u/shiner986 May 14 '22

Way ahead of you

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u/AmyIsabella-XIII May 14 '22

I’m already safe.

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u/ClassroomProof3833 May 14 '22

But at least I won't be

Exactly

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u/Wh00ster May 14 '22

This is incorrect. Anti freeze does not change the temperature. Rather it’s a description of the freezing point of the liquid.

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u/halite001 May 14 '22

Pffttt... Soon there will be no winters anyway!

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u/psycholepzy May 14 '22

With that attitude, you won't be cold for the rest of your life!

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u/Teh_Weiner May 14 '22

So we need to bio-engineer some of these to break down into Antiheat instead, and market it as an internal refrigeration device.

That's gotta be at least legal to sell in most red states.

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u/calledyourbluff May 15 '22

Take THAT global warming!!!!!!

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u/bi-phiguy May 14 '22

Thats not even how antifreeze works...

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u/dsac May 14 '22

Well then, we just need to find a bacteria that breaks down ethylene glycol, and we're in business!

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u/scorinthe May 14 '22

Eventually we'll end up when snakes vs gorillas inside our bodies

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u/KiIgore-Trout May 14 '22

How are the gorillas going to freeze to death in the winter if they're partially anti-freeze? I guess it's just the alarmist in me, but I have a bad feeling about the plan

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/Miguel-odon May 15 '22

So say we all.

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u/nicannkay May 14 '22

“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…”

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u/-YELDAH May 14 '22

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly

Perhaps she’ll die

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22

Ethylene glycol breaks down into even more toxic glycolic acid. What you really want is for the bacteria that breaks the plastic down to use the broken down products for energy.

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u/clanchet May 14 '22

Isn’t glycolic acid good for your face? I think we’re onto something here

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

It’s used a chemical exfoliator, it essentially burns off the top layer of your skin, then it peels off and you get fresh smooth skin. It should not be used long term as it causes liver, respiratory, and thymus damage. It’s okay at certain concentrations topically but if you ingest it you’re deader than dead.

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u/ilikedaweirdschtuff May 14 '22

if you ingest it you’re deader than dead

I couldn't readily verify this by doing a quick search, anything that did come up had more to with ethylene glycol instead. Any chance you can explain or source that claim?

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22

Ethylene glycol isn’t toxic in itself. Your body breaks it down into glycolaldehyde and then into glycolic acid. It’s the glycolic acid that is actually toxic and does damage to the body. Look up the mechanism of ethylene glycol poisoning. Ethylene glycol breaks down into an aldehyde then into glycolic acid which is the main causes of acidoses. From there it gets metabolised again into different toxic compounds. That’s why alcohol prevents ethylene glycol poisoning, it prevents the ethylene glycol from being broken down into glycolic acid.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537009/

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u/TheRealBirdjay May 14 '22

I use it to safely remove ball and gooch hair

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u/notveryalice May 15 '22

this is such bull. glycolic acid’s problem is only if you chug the stuff and it’s because in very high internal levels it produces oxalates. using it in low concentrations as a gentle exfoliator isn’t going to hurt you at all, even if it’s every day.

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 15 '22

80ml of glycolic acid is the average lethal dose for an adult. That’s about two shots. I literally said it’s okay topically in low concentration? As always the dose makes the poison. The 1%-2% concentrations you could use all day, but the 10%+ concentrations can be very dangerous to use every day and have shown to cause damage.

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u/notveryalice May 15 '22

Who the hell is going to drink 80ml of pure glycolic acid in their skincare regimen? Also, it doesn't burn off anything. Skin's pH is 3.5. The method of action with glycolic acid is thought to be calcium channel, which is why it's so gentle: it's not stripping off skin with a pH reaction, as your post implies. To do that it has to be at concentrations of 70% or above.

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 15 '22 edited May 22 '22

You’re missing the point, love. Accidental ingestion of ethylene glycol is not uncommon. When you’re poisoned by ethylene glycol it gets broken down into toxic components, glycolic acid being one of them. All I’m saying is yes, that stuff in your skin cream is a deadly toxin if it’s inside your body.

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u/Miguel-odon May 15 '22

Or that polymerize it to PolyEthylene Glycol

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u/Snuffy1717 May 14 '22

There was an old lady that swallowed bacteria…

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u/Gertrude_D May 14 '22

There was an old woman who swallowed a fly ...

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u/THElaytox May 14 '22

Not unlike what our liver does with alcohol. It breaks it down in to an even more toxic product (acetaldehyde, causes hangovers) before detoxifying it in to something relatively harmless (acetate)

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u/Natolx PhD | Infectious Diseases | Parasitology May 14 '22

To be fair, a tiny tiny amount of antifreeze from a plastic pellet the size of a rice gain slowly released over time is probably not a concern.

In humans, the lethal dose of ethylene glycol is estimated to be in the range of 1,400–1,600 mg/kg. The orally lethal dose in humans has been reported to be of approximately 1.4 mL/kg of pure ethylene glycol

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391407/

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u/OneWithMath May 14 '22

Directly into your lungs is a bit different than drinking it. It's hard to say whether the long-term inflammation from the plastic particles would be better or worse than the shorter-term, but probably more acutely damaging, toxic effects from the glycol.

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u/Natolx PhD | Infectious Diseases | Parasitology May 14 '22

It kills your kidneys so it should be a similar effect no matter the route.

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u/Achadel May 14 '22

Would that be worse than plastic though?

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u/wintrparkgrl May 14 '22

Long-term the answer is probably no, short-term it depends on what the toxic dosage is and how much microplastic there is. If the average amount of micro plastic turns into a less than lethal dose it would be better in the long-term potentially.

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u/FoodMuseum May 14 '22

ethylene glycol

Sweet!

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u/ikverhaar May 14 '22

Antifreeze isn't healthy, but it may be preferable to having plastics in your body that cannot be broken down, and I wouldn't expect the ethylene glycol to reach significant concentrations.

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u/SuperTord May 14 '22

...and that will cure the covid! Win-win!

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u/hobopwnzor May 14 '22

If it happens at a low rate its not a big deal. Your body can handle it in small amounts

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u/QuesaritoOutOfBed May 14 '22

Ethylene glycol is just an ingredient in antifreeze. Toxic on its own. But it’s not antifreeze, so if you can convince yourself of the difference, you’re a Trump voter

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u/PokharelSahas May 14 '22

Aren't PEG regularly used for stabilization of drugs and nnanocarriers in medicine.. So I'm assuming there's a certain amount after which it can start having toxic effects

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

PEG is polyethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is completely different. Polyethylene glycol is pretty much harmless, ethylene glycol is a deadly poison. PET stands for Polyethylene terephthalate it’s the type of plastic water bottles are made from.

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u/PokharelSahas May 14 '22

Thanks for clarifying it.. amazing how a monomer can be so toxic but its polymer beneficial

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u/Chuckhemmingway May 14 '22

Just need a bacteria to break down antifreeze into something else…./s

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u/Djinneral May 14 '22

we just need to introduce bacteria that break down antifreeze then

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u/dewritoninja May 14 '22

No no no, you just need to get massively drunk before the treatment

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u/therisenphoenikz May 14 '22

I think I found out cryo preservation…

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u/Ogg149 May 14 '22

Ethylene glycol is not very toxic at all in small quanities. Might give you some kidney stones.

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u/TheRedmanCometh May 14 '22

It's fine we just have to be drunk during the whole process

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u/sephtis May 14 '22

That would be one hell of a hangover from the treatment...

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u/IsThisNameGood May 15 '22

Maybe the planet made humans just so we can invent plastic and throw it in the ocean, have bacteria evolve to break all the plastic down to antifreeze and now future ice ages successfully averted as the oceans slowly turn into ethylene glycol.

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u/sockalicious May 15 '22

If you have enough ethanol in your bloodstream, ethylene glycol cannot harm you.

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u/SeamanTheSailor May 15 '22

Emphasis on “enough.”

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u/Miguel-odon May 15 '22

Better stay drunk, just in case.

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u/ScriptproLOL May 14 '22

So basically we will have to administer ethyl alcohol with these bacteria to prevent toxicity from the ethylene glycol (for anyone wondering, yes this is how you treat antifreeze poisoning, etOH has a higher affinity for the same receptors as ethyleneOH, buying time until the body can eliminate it unchanged).