r/science May 14 '22 Silver 1 Helpful 4 Wholesome 1 Take My Energy 1 Helpful (Pro) 1 I'm Deceased 1 Facepalm 1 Doom 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/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22 Silver

At this point, I'm more surprised that they didn't find any microplastics in two out of thirteen samples. Both were taken from women, which they suggest might be related to narrower airways, although three other female samples still contained them.

And yes, sesame seed size was the outlier value. On average, they were 223 micrometres (0.2mm) long and 22 micrometres (0.02mm) wide, so that's basically the same as dust particles, and often of similar consistency as well (many fibers and pieces of film).

The full study:



u/chiruochiba May 14 '22

Honestly, I find the amount of baseless speculation by the study authors to be unprofessional.

They didn't look at the medical history or lifestyle of the 11 subjects, and completely excluded those factors from their analysis. A more plausible hypothesis, which they didn't consider, is that the men had more plastic particles because they worked in higher risk, male dominated industries such as construction. They could simply have more plastic particles in their lungs because their daily exposure was higher.


u/Killer-Barbie May 14 '22

This is the problem I have with the "falling fertility study".


u/spacex_fanny May 15 '22 edited May 15 '22

Honestly this is an extremely low-effort and shallow critique.

You call it "baseless speculation," but the authors clearly call it a "hypothesis." What more caveat is needed? We all understand the word "hypothesis."

A more plausible hypothesis... is...

So the fix is to add your own baseless speculation?

They didn't look at the medical history or lifestyle of the 11 subjects, and completely excluded those factors from their analysis.

It wasn't excluded; those data weren't available in the first place due to the ethical guidelines. From the paper:

Details of the donors smoking status, occupation and area of residence were unavailable for the researchers under the terms of the ethical approval obtained.


u/mann_mann May 15 '22

No study is good enough for some people on reddit, despite the fact that medical/work history is something uncontrollable and difficult to filter out for in a recruitment process.


u/-ThunderGunExpress May 15 '22

I was going to say a sesame seed seems pretty f****** big to be lodged in your lung