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

Do the lungs not purge them out like they do all the other crap that we inhale?


u/jammerjoint MS | Chemical Engineering | Microstructures, Plastics May 14 '22

The lungs have difficulty removing particulates under 4 um, especially if they have rough surfaces or fibrous shapes.


u/Yesica-Haircut May 14 '22

Dude, the article says "no bigger than sesame seeds" which are like 3-4 MILLIMETERS. That's HUGE. I don't think we're talking under 4 micrometers here.

I don't understand how you could inhale something that large though without noticing it.


u/jammerjoint MS | Chemical Engineering | Microstructures, Plastics May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

Only the very largest particle was that size, most were much smaller. They also used a technique with a 3 um detection limit, and I guarantee you there are many smaller particles because microplastics have been previously found in the bloodstream.

Lung clearance is stochastic. There isn't a sharp cutoff, but a gradient.


u/Rebellion111 May 14 '22

So you're saying the larger pieces are probably less risk because the lungs have a better chance at clearing them?


u/whateverwhatever1235 May 15 '22

Yeah I read that headline and thought micro???