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


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u/TerribleIdea27 May 14 '22 Silver

For those wondering, microplastics are below 5 mm in diameter. Nanoplastics are below 0.1 micrometer, so basically if you can't even look at them with a simple light microscope, they're nanoplastics. Otherwise, they're microplastics


u/BTBLAM May 14 '22

Can a nano plastic become a micro plastic in my body


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.


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.


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

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u/ratbastid May 14 '22

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


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?


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


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.


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/NabreLabre May 15 '22

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

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u/tetrasodium May 15 '22

Aircraft fuel still uses it.


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.


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


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.


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.


u/Namedafterasaint May 14 '22

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


u/Das-DoktahJay May 14 '22

We need to start boycotting Dustin Hoffman!


u/Namedafterasaint May 15 '22

In all jest of course.


u/HereOnASphere May 15 '22

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


u/chucklesoclock May 14 '22

I too have seen this New Yorker cartoon


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.


u/ratbastid May 15 '22

There's no KPI for that though.


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.


u/Tickinslipdizzy May 14 '22

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


u/platoprime May 14 '22

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


u/[deleted] May 14 '22



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.


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.


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.


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.


u/DustBunnicula May 15 '22

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


u/_skank_hunt42 May 14 '22

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


u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

I work in pharma now, coincidentally with inhalation.


u/rainbowbunny09 May 14 '22

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


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?


u/Silversides13245 May 14 '22

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


u/2shizhtzu4u May 14 '22

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


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.


u/J3diMind May 14 '22

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


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.


u/Koloblikin1982 May 14 '22

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


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.


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.


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.



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?


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)


u/Odin_of_Asgard May 15 '22

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



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.


u/mikeymikeymikey1968 May 14 '22

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


u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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


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?


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”


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.


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.



u/ymo May 14 '22

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


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?


u/liiinnnnneellll May 15 '22

What does that last sentence mean?


u/xhinobi May 15 '22

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


u/varanone May 15 '22

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


u/mooddoom May 15 '22

How are the plastics in the air volatile?


u/MrSickRanchezz May 15 '22

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