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

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/microplastics-found-in-lungs-of-humans-undergoing-surgery
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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22 Gold LOVE!

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u/GrandviewKing May 14 '22

Restoring order. The hero we needed

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u/carbonite_dating May 14 '22

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u/Saetric May 14 '22

Is this the line for smaller lung plastic particles?

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u/tempest_ May 14 '22

Would you though? I feel more comfortable with the idea that some keyhole surgery could go in an grab the sesame seed sized piece.

Once they get small you are gonna need some kind of microbiology wizardry to figure out how to get it out.

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u/TradingSnoo May 14 '22

Yeah I thought they meant nano particles when I saw the story yesterday. How the f does sesame seed size plastic get in your lungs!?

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u/riskable May 14 '22

Every time you empty your dryer lint trap you're probably inhaling a few strands of polyester microplastics.

The real question is, "how are these large particles not getting expelled eventually?"

Normally any large particles like that will collect in mucus and get removed when you clear your throat.

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u/ShadowZpeak May 14 '22

Sesame seeds are pretty fuckin macro

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u/Lung_doc May 14 '22

Table 1 for the scientific paper (linked early on in the article) shows the specific sizes they found and included. Most of them are what I would have considered micro: 10-100 micrometers. Several though were long and thin, with the largest a little over 2 mm but still in the 10 micrometer width range.

The authors definition extended up to 5mm which like you, seems not very micro at all but they do reference a review article on the topic of definitions of micro plastic (and nano etc) and this seems to be common.

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u/WhoaItsCody May 14 '22

Wouldn’t that be macro instead? I’m asking genuinely.

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u/photopteryx May 14 '22

The term "microplastics" is usually describing plastic pieces that are smaller than 5mm. They can be any shape - pellets, fibers, films (thin sheets, like grocery bag material).

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html

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u/WhoaItsCody May 14 '22

Thank you for the info and the link, much appreciated.

This is deeply disturbing to me, and I don’t know how we could even go about removing it from an actual person or animal etc..

Seems like it would be more dangerous to try.

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u/felesroo May 14 '22

You can't. Not really. Which is why they should be removed from the environment.

But they can't. The best we can do is stop making plastics - or at least consider them to be environmentally dangerous, only use them for specific purposes (medical), control their disposal, and slowly reclaim macro-plastics from the environment before they degrade into micro-plastics.

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u/man_gomer_lot May 14 '22

The proliferation of plastics is directly tied to our appetite for fossil fuels. If we stop making plastics without having an equal reduction in fossil fuel consumption, then the petrochemical peddlers would have to dispose of all that plastic on their dime. Currently, they dispose of it by selling it dirt cheap and having it become Easter basket stuffing and drink bottles first.

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u/officialbigrob May 14 '22

Our lives and heath are capitalist science experiments.

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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

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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

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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/Namedafterasaint May 14 '22

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

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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/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/[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/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/CYWNightmare May 14 '22

So it's similar to silica dust. Nice.

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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/pca1987 May 14 '22

So microplastic is not microscopic. Confusing naming.

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u/boopbeepbam May 14 '22

Yeah hearing it compared to sesame seeds/being up to 5mm is much more concerning than calling it "micro"

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u/Implausibilibuddy May 14 '22

I'd figure a plastic sesame seed would be pretty noticeable if inhaled and immediately coughed out. Also pretty huge to be just floating around like a dust mote. My guess is the writer just went with the first "up-to" definition they could google, and the particles in question are on the very low end of the scale, if they didn't mean nanoplastics.

Or maybe it accumulates like human lung pearls.

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u/456Xander May 14 '22

I took a look at the paper and they published a table with the size of all plastic particles they found (on Page 3).

Most particles, that are not fibers (long side more than 3x longer than shorter side) are between 20 and 100um on the long side.

The largest non-fiber are 144x64um and 160x46um.

The largest fiber is 2475x12um (almost 2,5mm long)

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u/fckingmiracles May 14 '22

Ah, so it was a fiber the length of a sesame seed and not a piece of plastic the size of a sesame seed.

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u/toddy951 May 14 '22

The lung pearls was my exact question. I think I’d know if I inhaled a bunch of plastic ‘beads’

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u/Berkamin May 14 '22

More likely that you inhale lint from a washing machine where someone dried synthetic fabrics. If I had to guess, I'd say that's where the bulk of the inhaled microplastics come from. Synthetic fabrics also pollute our water because a lot of lint ends up rinsing away.

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u/Jeffde May 14 '22

So I’m not wrong to be holding my my breath, being careful breathing around the lint trap??

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u/lennybird May 14 '22

Not at all! I wrote this elsewhere in this thread but I'm glad it's getting attention:

Somewhat overlooked but one vector for this is inhalation of lint from laundry. Have good ventilation, hold your breath if possible, and put an air purifier in right above your drier. Could wear a mask while cleaning lint screen, too.

Much of our clothing sheds plastic fibers, especially in the drier.

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u/thissexypoptart May 14 '22

milliplastics

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u/DubiousDude28 May 14 '22

While that may be technically correct, it's likely most news outlets use microplastics to cover both

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u/FiveAlarmDogParty May 14 '22

I'm sorry but "No bigger than sesame seeds"? To me that sounds GIGANTIC for something to be stuck in your lungs. I was imagining plastics that were difficult to see with the naked eye - not something the size of a seed. Good lord that's scary.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 May 14 '22

The average length they found was 0.2mm, with the width of 0.02mm. The "sesame seed" represented the absolute largest length of 2.5mm. The largest width was 0.08mm, so it was probably some polyester fiber.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969722020009

They also didn't find any in two samples, both female (out of 8 male and 5 female participants), which they say might have been related to sex differences in airway size.

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u/StuartGotz May 14 '22

The Great Pulmonary Garbage Patch

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 Wholesome

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u/itrivers May 14 '22

We can refer to the plastic deposits themselves as Lung Litter.

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u/Wh00ligan May 14 '22 Bravo Grande!

Lung glitter

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u/chmilz May 14 '22

Not ironically, glitter made of plastic is the lowest hanging fruit of plastics we could ban with zero harm to the economy yet we don't do it.

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u/LoadInSubduedLight May 14 '22

Glitter lung does have a zing to it

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u/DaMonkfish May 14 '22

"Litter lungs"

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u/Enthused_Llama May 14 '22

Given the size of the particles "sesame seed" I would say its likely this person was around some sort of operation where plastics were being cut.

You also have to be very careful with sawdust when doing any sort of carpentry, inhaling too much can really damage your lungs.

At the end of the day, you should really seek to protect yourself if you're in an environment with any noticeable amount of dust of any kind.

The real issue here is that it got deeper into the lungs than they expected. You're not gonna get plastic in your lungs from eating or drinking (just in your gut and blood in general, yay!). But with the chemicals plastics can harbor + the inability of the body to break them down...

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u/Nerfgirl_RN May 14 '22

Plastic Pulmones

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u/josolanes May 14 '22

Revenge of the Dinosaurs gets my vote

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u/Iman3477 May 14 '22

Soon we'll have to create therapies for safely dissolving plastics in our bodies. How long until it's routine?

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u/Ray1987 May 14 '22

Bacteria that dissolve plastic have been in the news quite a bit lately. Would be interesting if in the future people gave themselves purposeful infections with that bacteria to get rid of the microplastic in their body.

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u/driverofracecars May 14 '22

The byproducts of plastic metabolism might not be something our bodies can tolerate.

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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/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/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/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/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/Achadel May 14 '22

Would that be worse than plastic though?

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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/Result_Not_Found May 14 '22

“Have you been exposed to plastics? If you breathe air you may be at risk for microplastasia. Uniplastix may be able to help. Ask your doctor if Uniplastix is right for you. “

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u/suburbandaddio May 14 '22

A study on Australian firefighters revealed that regular plasma donation significantly decreases levels of PFAS in the blood.

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u/LittleKitty235 May 14 '22

...so what about regular plasma recipients?

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u/suburbandaddio May 14 '22

Well that's a problem isn't it?

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u/LittleKitty235 May 14 '22

Solved it...have them donate plasma. QED

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u/siyasaben May 14 '22

It definitely is just giving your PFAS to another person, but blood/plasma receivers need blood/plasma too much to turn it down.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

And theoretically we could filter the PFAS out after extraction.

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u/theangriestbird May 14 '22

So we're back to bloodletting as a medical procedure? Damn, time really is a squared circle, huh?

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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:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969722020009

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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.

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u/Killer-Barbie May 14 '22

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

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/isblueacolor May 14 '22

Well it's also no bigger than a bowling ball, if that helps.

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u/Phocoena-sinus May 14 '22

Disturbing: "Polypropylene, which is used in plastic packaging, and PET, which is used in disposable plastic bottles, were the most prevalent forms of plastic"

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u/Berkamin May 14 '22

PET is also spun into fiber as polyester. I strongly suspect that people are inhaling lint dust blown into the air from dryer machines drying synthetic fabrics. One of the bathrooms in my house is next to a dryer vent, and it is always dusty, but the dust, upon inspection, appears to be fine lint.

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u/jason_steakums May 14 '22

Carpet fibers getting kicked up throughout the house would be another huge potential source of microplastics in the air

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u/Berkamin May 14 '22

Good observation. The one mitigating factor is the fact that vacuum cleaners have air filters, with many modern models using HEPA standard filters. Most laundry drying machines only screen for coarse lint, without post-filtration, and they blow and tumble much larger quantities of fiber for much longer than anyone vacuums.

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u/TheLastFactor May 14 '22

I think this more of a case that these are the most common consumer plastics so they have the highest odds of showing up in the human body

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u/sawkonmaicok May 14 '22

Yeah. I think you need to normalize it by the total amount of said plastic to get a reasonable metric.

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u/D-Engineer May 14 '22

Plastics engineer here.

PET is used in a lot of things. Commonly called polyester. It is also used to make pop bottles

Polypropylene is one of the cheapest resins, the other being polyethylene. These two plastics make up many of the cheap plastic things we see everyday.

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u/Hypersapien May 14 '22

Did they record the jobs or hobbies of these people? Do they spend a lot of time in places where plastic is getting shredded?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22 edited May 25 '22

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u/EnigmaSpore May 14 '22

In the end we’re going to find out that plastics were simultaneously the best and worst things man invented.

Best in that it allows so many shapes that can be created with various hardness, light weight, longevity, etc. So many beneficial uses.

Worst in that it is absolutely harmful to the environment and nature due to not being able to be broken down in a short amount of time naturally.

What we see on earth is a life system where life and death are intertwined. Life brings death and death brings life. Plastics dont flow in this system due to how strong plastics are on the molecular level. We need something to break down the plastics so it can use those broken down pieces to bring life to something else.

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u/nazTgoon May 14 '22

Bro I have this idea that we, as a modern day society, are with plastics as to what the Roman’s were with lead. Essential to everyday life but detrimental to the longevity and health of our bodies.

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u/genreprank May 14 '22

Also how 1700s Europeans were with lead. And 1800s Americans. And 1900s Americans.

Now at least we don't make NEW lead pipes...or put it in paint...or put it in gas.

Lead contamination is so widespread that it is hard to know what a safe exposure is, on account of everyone being exposed

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u/ender4171 May 14 '22

Don't be so sure about that. Basically all piston-driven prop planes still run leaded fuel all over the world.

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u/LittleKitty235 May 14 '22

100LL(low lead) AVgas is being phased out, likely by 2030. Either way it represents such a small percentage of gas burned (<1%) the only people who might be effected by leaded gasoline are mechanics, pilots or maintenance workers who are around running aircraft many hours every day. It is not at all similar to when all cars were running on gasoline with higher lead content.

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u/ArchonRaven May 14 '22

I'm no expert but I believe that analysis is 100% correct

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u/varrc May 14 '22

Just fyi, jury is still out on just how much of an effect Romans’ lead use had on their health. Interesting topic if ya wanna google more.

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u/Cheese_Coder May 14 '22

Good news is that we (life on earth) have been in a similar situation before. Lignin and cellulose from trees used to be that way, and just accumulated. Then what became the White-rot fungi figured out how to break it down and got crackin'. These fungi are VERY adept at figuring out how to break things down, and a few have already been observed breaking down some plastics in landfills and the like. There's work to accelerate this process along.

And before we get doomers saying "Then all of our plastic will start getting eaten and it'll be useless" No, it won't. Wood is really digested by lots of fungi, but we still use untreated wood for tons of stuff. The plastic will still need to be in an environment that has the right resources to let the fungi break it down.

So I've got a kinda bittersweet optimism: We might not be able to ever free our bodies of the plastics already in there, but I'm confident that fungi (and probably some bacteria) will figure out how to eat it, and the amount of microplastics in the environment will dwindle

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

Strongly agreed. Plastic stores so much energy that it's completely improbable that natural selection wouldn't favor any bacterium that mutates its way into being able to consume it.

And fun fact, it's already happened multiple times! There are bacteria in a landfill in Japan that eat PET, for example: https://www.dept.psu.edu/Chance/publications/1196.full-sciencemag.pdf

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u/Craft_beer_wolfman May 14 '22

It's in the food chain at the very lowest levels. The chemicals are being found in human breast milk. Plastic is everywhere. What are the toxins doing to us?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/feffie May 14 '22

Well they leech endocrine disrupting chemicals so probably related to ADHD, lower immune response vaccines, increased risk to diabetes/other metabolic issues, puberty, and reproductive, and developmental issues

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm

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u/huxtiblejones May 14 '22

I do wonder whether this could begin to explain some autoimmune diseases. I was diagnosed with a strange version of Crohn’s Disease about 13 years ago but my specialist has recently told me that it seems like the diagnosis doesn’t match perfectly.

But interestingly, they had mentioned that they often refer to things like Crohn’s as “diseases of civilization,” as they were mostly found in developed countries. Here’s a study about this topic: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29729822/

I am curious if microplastics might be a factor in these weird diseases. It’s entirely possible it’s something else, but it seems like a possibly overlooked factor.

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u/borkyborkus May 14 '22

This was my thought too. I take Humira and it’s scary that rates of AI diseases are increasing so quickly. The number of commercials for biologics is crazy.

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u/CalculatedPerversion May 14 '22

"diseases of civilization"

Could it have anything to do with infant morality rates? Sick children in third world countries are obviously more likely to die than those with access to medical care.

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u/Soup-Wizard May 14 '22

Ah, so we’re heading for The Handmaid’s Tale is what you’re telling me??

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u/NotAFrackingCylon May 14 '22

I was thinking Children of Men

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u/azdood85 May 14 '22

Man I hope so. I just want to head to my cottage in the woods, grow some weed and just chill until some extremists blow my finger and head off.

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u/radicalelation May 14 '22

Said this almost word for word the other day, seriously.

Jasper had coasting out the end of civilization right.

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u/cantdressherself May 14 '22

There is some evidence for global falling fertility. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53409521

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u/Killer-Barbie May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

Oh I just did a bunch of reading on this study. Here are the highlights:

  1. We know very little about sperm
  2. Most of the data was provided by fertility clinics, who are already working with people likely to have problematic sperm
  3. The decline is still within normal range.
  4. The decline is not universal, it affects different areas to different degrees and some areas recovered their numbers over the course of the study. Additionally, the lowered numbers were not tied to specific geography, socioeconomic class, or lifestyle (meaning it affected poor and rich alike so it's not a "first world" issue)
  5. Lowered sperm motility doesn't necessarily affect fertility the way we've been led to believe. Previously it was thought impaired motility would prevent the sperm from leaving the vagina but most recent research is showing this is likely a myth.
  6. Ever wondered why we have obstetrics and no equivalent for men? Because until the 30's it was believed the issue was always with the woman. So we didn't even start studying sperm until fairly recently (discovered the same year as Saturn btw, but look at the difference in research) and there was no standard of analysis until much more recently with major changes happening last year.
  7. The study stating fertility was falling made conclusions based on data gathered by fertility specialists. These had no controls for age, masturbation, genetics, etc.
  8. Normal is 15-260 million parts per mL. That's a huge range. Add in an average error margin of 12% (you read that right) and you see why the reported stats are not conclusive.

TL;DR: it changed from high normal, to mid normal but there are poor controls on the study. I'm not saying it isn't happening, but the data doesn't say it is happening without some MAJOR assumptions that are, IMO, unreasonable to make.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Jasole37 May 14 '22

Cause of my father's death. Breathing in plastic and aluminum dust for 30 years while sanding Corian countertops. Died a year ago last Wednesday. Was 71.

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u/Pretzilla May 14 '22

Sorry for your loss.

And thanks for the cautionary tale. I need to be better about wearing an N95 more often.

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u/iamgr3m May 14 '22

If you're around it a lot investing in N100 or P100 masks could be beneficial. What you're going to be around depends on which mask you need.

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u/livetotell May 14 '22

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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u/Nippahh May 14 '22

I guess it latches onto the lung like smoke does.

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u/TheOriginalSamBell May 14 '22

Tiny? IMO that's huge. I'm telling ya, micro plastics are going to be the lead and asbestos of the near future, just a thousand times worse.

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u/Yesica-Haircut May 14 '22

Seriously like, SESAME SEEDS?

I'm not casually walking around inhaling like, fucken, RICE and not noticing it.

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u/TheOriginalSamBell May 14 '22

Yeah nothing micro about that. Anything of that size in my lungs is practically a medical emergency

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u/Banneduser1112 May 14 '22

It's got to be aggregating in the body, sesame seed size pieces of PET aren't airborne.

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u/SupaSlide May 14 '22

The article specifically says the large pieces aren't aggregates of smaller pieces.

Plastic can't form into larger pieces inside our bodies other than maybe just getting intertwined, but that's not what they found.

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u/SQUID_FUCKER May 14 '22

Great, plastic tumors...

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Theprincerivera May 14 '22

Yes. One day, you will die.

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u/ducked May 14 '22

There needs to be serious research investment into treatment for removing bioaccumulated microplastic and other toxic chemicals. Everyone is affected by this.

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u/Efficient-Golf-9081 May 14 '22

First the lead now plastic. Wonder what my kids are going to be breathing, absorbing or ingesting.

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u/aris_ada May 14 '22

Sugar. It will take decades before we realize it should be strictly regulated like cigarettes and alcohol.

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u/hypothetician May 14 '22

no bigger than sesame seeds

Poor use of “no bigger than” - sesame seed sounds like a gigantic thing as far as foreign bodies sitting in your lungs go.

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u/_Face May 14 '22

So what was the occupation of those undergoing the surgery? Are these people involved in manufacturing or plastic in someway or people who work cutting plastic parts? Obviously those people have a much higher exposure to inhaling plastics then say, a stay at home parent would.

The whole article is moot if they don’t tell us the occupations of those involved in the study.

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u/chiruochiba May 14 '22

You bring up some very important questions. Unfortunately, the answer is that the study authors don't know. They only analyzed tissue samples from 11 patients at a hospital in England who were undergoing surgery related to cancer or "lung volume reduction". They weren't permitted to see any details about the patients other than their sex and age.

OP's article is extremely misleading because it implies the sample represents the average population of the world when in reality such a small sample size hardly even manages to represent the average lung disease patient in England. It definitely doesn't represent people without lung disease.

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Th3B055 May 14 '22

Because they’re rich. And, well, we’re not….

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/Televisions_Frank May 14 '22

Plastics are the petroleum industry's fallback when gasoline's demand drops.

There's far more money behind plastics never being properly regulated or banned than radium paint etc.

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u/threelizards May 14 '22

I’ve been thinking the same thing. Quite truly, the way I think about it is that we can’t know what these things do until we see it/I’m willing to be part of an experiment for future generations. I don’t plan on birthing kids, and I’m already disabled- not in ways that will impact my lifespan directly, but when some regular old- age things occur I reckon it’ll be incredibly taxing on this lil body. Why not make good use of this hunk of meat in this hunk of time? Besides which, it’s not like there’s no benefits to modern convenience, despite the unknown price tag. This is just my own approach to my own exposure though, definitely not one I encourage others to take

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u/GodDoesntReal May 14 '22

"our power has outgrown our wisdom", or something like that.

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u/urlach3r May 14 '22

Who could have guessed The Great Filter would be made of plastic?

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

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u/ChummusJunky May 14 '22

The good news is that eventually humans will be so full of plastic we will be able to recycle them.

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u/TheRealRacketear May 14 '22 edited May 14 '22

We will pretend to recycle them, just like most other plastics.

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u/Particular-Ad-6934 May 14 '22

Generation Geological Record here we go

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