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Background and Aim While dietary exposure to microplastics is increasingly recognized, it is unknown if ingested plastics remain within the digestive tract. We aimed to examine human colectomy specimens for microplastics and to report the characteristics as well as polymer composition of the particles. Methods Colectomy samples were obtained from 11 adults (mean age 45.7, six males) who were residents of Northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. Microplastics were identified following chemical digestion of specimens and subsequent filtration. The samples were then examined for characteristics (abundance, length, shape, and color) and composition of three common polymer types using stereo‐ and Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) microscopes. Results Microplastics were detected in all 11 specimens with an average of 331 particles/individual specimen or 28.1 ± 15.4 particles/g tissue. Filaments or fibers accounted for 96.1% of particles, and 73.1% of all filaments were transparent. Out of 40 random filaments from 10 specimens (one had indeterminate spectra patterns), 90% were polycarbonate, 50% were polyamide, and 40% were polypropylene. Conclusion Our study suggests that microplastics are ubiquitously present in the human colon.
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Detection of microplastics in human colectomy specimens
Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim,*Sabiqah Tuan Anuar,*Alyza A Azmi,*Wan Mohd Aq Wan Mohd Khalik,*
Shumpei Lehata,*Siti Rabaah Hamzah,*Dzulkiee Ismail,
Zheng Feei Ma,
Andee Dzulkarnaen,
Zaidi Zakaria,
Nazri Mustaffa,
Sharifah Emilia Tuan Sharif
and Yeong Yeh Lee
*Microplastic Research Interest Group, Faculty of Science and Marine Environment, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Nerus, School of
Health Sciences,
Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kota Bharu,
Gut Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China and
St George and Sutherland Clinical School,
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Key words
cancer, colectomy, human, microplastic.
Accepted for publication 2 November 2020.
Yeong Yeh Lee, School of Medical Sciences,
Health Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Jalan
Raja Perempuan Zainab II, 16150, Kota Bharu,
Kelantan, Malaysia.
Declaration of conict of interest: None.
Author contribution: Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim and
Yeong Yeh Lee were responsible for the
conception and design of the work. Andee
Dzulkarnaen, Zaidi Zakaria, Nazri Mustaffa, and
Sharifah Emilia Tuan Sharif were involved in
sample acquisition and processing. All authors
performed the data analysis and interpretation.
Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim, Nazri Mustaffa, and Yeong
Yeh Lee wrote the manuscript and all authors
approved the nal version.
Funding support: Ministry of Higher Education
(MOHE) of MalaysiaFRGS 203.
PPSP.6171192FRGS 59457
Background and Aim: While dietary exposure to microplastics is increasingly recog-
nized, it is unknown if ingested plastics remain within the digestive tract. We aimed
to examine human colectomy specimens for microplastics and to report the character-
istics as well as polymer composition of the particles.
Methods: Colectomy samples were obtained from 11 adults (mean age 45.7, six
males) who were residents of Northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. Microplastics were
identied following chemical digestion of specimens and subsequent ltration. The
samples were then examined for characteristics (abundance, length, shape, and color)
and composition of three common polymer types using stereo- and Fourier Transform
InfraRed (FTIR) microscopes.
Results: Microplastics were detected in all 11 specimens with an average of 331 parti-
cles/individual specimen or 28.1 15.4 particles/g tissue. Filaments or bers
accounted for 96.1% of particles, and 73.1% of all laments were transparent. Out of
40 random laments from 10 specimens (one had indeterminate spectra patterns),
90% were polycarbonate, 50% were polyamide, and 40% were polypropylene.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that microplastics are ubiquitously present in the
human colon.
Since the 1950s, billions of tons of plastic waste have been indis-
criminately disposed in the environment, ending up in remote
locations and oceans.
Over time, some of these disposed plas-
tics are degraded into microplastics (broadly dened as size
<5 mm).
Microplastics pollution is a signicant environmental
issue in the Southeast Asia region.
For example, a recent study
showed that microplastics were detected in abundance at the
marine shores of Kuala Nerus and Kuantan, which are located on
the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
There were also abundant
microplastics found in local marine species; this included key-
stone species that are crucial in maintaining water quality.
Microplastics were also identied in cage-cultured Asian sea
Microplastics exist within the human food chain not only
as a result of ingesting contaminated cetaceans and sh
; micro-
plastics are also disseminated through atmospheric transport from
inland trash (e.g. landlls or indiscriminate waste), or even from
everyday plastic materials (e.g. food packaging) and clothes.
There are increasing reports on potential human exposure
to plastics in the food chain,
and a recently published study
detected microplastics in eight human stool samples which was
presumed to be due to ingestion of plastics from different
Ingested microplastics have been shown to cause
adverse bowel consequences in marine organisms.
For instance,
in zebrash, microplastics were found to cause inammation and
oxidative stress within gut tissue.
However, it is unknown if
microplastics remain within the human digestive tract for pro-
longed periods after dietary exposure; and if so, the potential
JGH Open: An open access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology (2020) 16
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
health impacts these microplastics may cause, including the pos-
sibility of malignancies.
Hence, in the present study, we aimed to examine human
colectomy specimens for the presence of microplastics, particle
characteristics, and polymer composition. These samples were
readily available for research as colectomies are routinely per-
formed in patients with colorectal malignancies.
Participants were recruited from Hospital Universiti Sains Malay-
sia (USM), a tertiary care center situated in the northeastern
coastal region of Peninsular Malaysia (Fig. 1). Patients
(18 years) who were scheduled for colectomy were recruited
sequentially for this study. Clinical indications for colectomy
included colorectal cancer and non-cancer (e.g. bleeding arterio-
venous malformation, colonic perforation, and trauma) diagno-
ses. Prior to colectomy, potential subjects were counseled, and
informed consent was obtained. Colectomy was performed as per
standard surgical practice. A portion of the colectomy specimen
was then harvested for study analysis, the remaining sample was
then sent for routine histopathological processing. Cautionary
measures were taken during specimen harvesting by investigators
to avoid possible contact with common plastics in the operation
theater, which included sutures, mesh, and containers. All tissue
samples were placed in formalin except for one tissue sample
(stored on lter paper enclosed in a glass petri dish) during labo-
ratory transport. The formalin and lter paper were thoroughly
checked for microplastic contamination before use.
Sample preparation as well as techniques to quantify and
identify polymers in microplastics were adapted from previously
described methods which were used for marine organisms.
Weighed tissue were chemically digested with 10% potassium
hydroxide at 60C for 710 h. The digested samples were then
diluted with deionized water to prevent clogging during ltration,
ltered using 0.45 μm cellulose membrane paper (Whatman,
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) and subsequently dried in a
glass desiccator with silica gel at room temperature over 2 days.
Following this, using a stereo dissecting microscope with a 7:1
zoom ratio and a magnication of 0.85.6×(model SZX7, Olym-
pus Corp., Tokyo, Japan), the abundance and characteristics
(length, shape, and colors) of the microplastic particles that had
the longest average length were determined. Micrographs of the
microplastic particles were captured using microscope cameras
(STEMI2000-c, Zeiss, Oberkochen, Germany) and ScopePad-
500 (Yenway Microscopes, United Kingdom) at magnications
of 0.6-5×. Using a scanning electron microscope with energy-
dispersive X-ray (SEM/EDX) analysis (JOEL JSM-6360LA,
JEOL Ltd., Japan), the surface morphology and elemental com-
position (carbon counts) of the samples were also studied.
Finally, the composition of three common polymers that is, poly-
carbonate (PC), polypropylene (PP), and polyamide (PA) in
microplastics were identied for each specimen. These polymers
were chosen not only because they are found abundantly in water
and marine organisms but also because of their potential effects
on human health.
To distinguish plastic from natural parti-
cles, especially smaller microplastics, a representative random
subset of samples (1030% of the total microplastic count) were
subjected to a hot needle test which were then validated by
micro-FTIR spectroscopy.
In addition, to determine the
presence of three common polymers that is, PA, PC, and PP, at
least four representative laments were chosen randomly from
each specimen. In brief, plastic (but not natural) particles will
melt when subjected to a hot needle test. A standalone micro-
Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) microscope (model LUMOS,
Bruker Optics Inc., MA, USA) in Attenuated Total Reectance
mode was used to identify the polymer types by recording the
spectra in the mid-IR range of 4000400 cm
(60 scans per
analysis). The recorded images and spectra were processed using
the OPUS/IR Package Version 8.0 software, which identies
characteristic wavelengths and compares the recorded spectra
against those from a reference library.
As potential airborne contamination was a signicant con-
cern, the following preventive steps were rigorously undertaken
during laboratory experiments: (i) cotton lab gowns and latex
gloves were worn during laboratory work, (ii) all liquid reagents
and media were ltered before use, (iii) when not in use, samples
were covered with a lid or aluminum foil, (iv) each test apparatus
would be cleaned with distilled or deionized water before the
experiment, (v) sorting of samples were performed inside
Figure 1 Map of Peninsular Malaysia. Sites of microplastics research
in the pristine northeastern coast that include ( ) Kota Bharu (current
study), ( ) Setiu wetlands, ( ) Kuala Nerus and ( ) Kuantan Port.
Microplastics in human colectomy YS Ibrahim et al.
2JGH Open: An open access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology (2020) 16
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
contamination chambers, and (vi) use of plastic-containing
apparatus was kept to a bare minimum. In addition, during
microscopic analysis, dampened and exposed lter papers adja-
cent to the sample dishes as well as systematic blanks were
used for quality control.
All data were entered into and analyzed using SPSS ver-
sion 22 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Numerical data were
presented as mean and SD unless otherwise stated.
Approval was obtained from the Human Research Ethics
Committee of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) (reference:
Samples were obtained from 11 participants (mean age
45.7 17.9 years, age range 3488 years, six males); nine sub-
jects had colorectal cancer while two had a normal colon
(Table 1). All systematic blanks were negative. The mean
weight of colectomy samples was 13.4 4.5 g. All samples
had evidence of microplastics with an average count of 331 per
individual or 28.1 15.4 particles per g of colon tissue. The
lament form accounted for 96.1% of all samples. The lamen-
tous particles came in different colors including transparent,
black, red, green, blue, brown, purple, and yellow (Fig. 2a).
Overall, transparent laments accounted for 73.1% of all colors.
The longest dimension of particles ranged from 0.8 to 1.6 mm
with an average of 1.1 0.3 mm. Figure 2b shows the typical
morphology and the high carbon counts of polymeric micro-
plastics observed under SEM/EDX. Polymers were identied in
a subset of samples, except for one sample because of an inde-
terminate spectra pattern. Of the subset of 40 randomly chosen
laments from 10 specimens (eight cancer and two normal sub-
jects), 90% were PCs, 50% were PAs 50%, and 40% were PPs
(Fig. 2c).
Our study detected microplastics in colectomy specimens; this
indicates the ubiquitous nature of microplastics in our digestive
tract and corroborates recent ndings from a study on human
stool samples.
On average, we detected 331 particles per indi-
vidual specimen or 28 particles per g of colon tissue. Our study
provides evidence supporting the ingestion (and or inhalation)
of plastics by humans.
As ours is the rst human study
using colectomy samples, there are no similar data for compari-
son; however, recent estimates of human exposure to micro-
plastics might provide some clues.
For instance, based
on 15% of an American citizens caloric intake, Cox et al. have
estimated an annual microplastics ingestion of 39 000 to
52 000 particles, this estimate increases from 74 000 to
121 000 when the inhalation route is included.
Zhang et al.
have also estimated human microplastics burden through the
use of table salt and drinking water as well as inhaled air of
(07.3) ×10
,(04.7) ×10
and (03.0) ×10
items per per-
son per year, respectively.
In a prospective study of 2000
individuals from Iran, there were 650 microplastics or an aver-
age of 0.33 particles per individual which were identied from
saliva samples.
Moreover, existing literature reveals that the
abundance of microplastics in the digestive tract seems to vary
across different marine organisms; for example, one study states
Table 1 Characteristics of study participants
(years) Sex Colectomy diagnosis
Weight of
laments Polymer content
34 Female Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 17.0 35 20 57.1 Polycarbonate
88 Female Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 17.3 214 115 54.0 Polycarbonate,
35 Male Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma with mucinous and
signet-ring component
15.8 450 407 91.5 Polycarbonate, polyamide
63 Female Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 15.9 563 528 95.1 Polycarbonate, polyamide
63 Female Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 4.7 202 104 55.0 Polycarbonate
34 Male Moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma 14.8 615 285 66.3 Polycarbonate, polyamide
48 Female Poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma 6.4 331 192 58.0 Not available
41 Male Mucinous adenocarcinoma with carcinomatous peritonei 11.0 375 317 84.5 Polycarbonate, polyamide
36 Male Signet ring carcinoma 17.0 145 87 60.0 Polyamide, polypropylene
67 Male Bleeding arteriovenous malformation 16.7 430 385 93.0 Polypropylene
34 Male Normal perforated colon with background history of
inammatory bowel disease
10.7 278 250 89.9 Polycarbonate,
YS Ibrahim et al. Microplastics in human colectomy
JGH Open: An open access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology (2020) 16
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
that there were 5.5 particles per marine mammal
while another
study found 2 particles per sh.
In human stool, however, there
was a median of 20 pieces of microplastic per 10 g of stool.
Subjects included in our study were long-time coastal resi-
dents where seafood and sh sauce are the dietary norm.
vious studies have shown that even at pristine shores,
microplastics could be found in abundance
which was proba-
bly associated with the use of shing nets, plastic shing gear,
food packaging, and also the likelihood of airborne particles.
Subsequent ingestion of these microplastics by zooplankton and
other marine organisms for example, Scapharca cornea would
then introduce plastics into the food web of nearby residents.
Therefore, the plastic particles found in the colonic samples of
our subjects could be explained by exposure to microplastics
contained in contaminated seafood or similarly sourced foods.
However, it is important to note that even though bivalve con-
sumption may be a major exposure pathway, inhalation of micro-
plastics should also be considered as a signicant contributing
factor. Contamination from the operation theater environment,
during transportation or within the laboratory cannot be totally
excluded. However, the negative procedural blanks does provide
assurance on the quality of this study.
Filament or ber was the most common shape found in
our study. This observation is similar to studies on the environ-
ment and other studies on cetaceans, sh, and mammals
further support the validity of our ndings. In contrast, fragments
and lms were more common than bers in the study on human
We cannot explain this disparity; we did not collect
stool samples from our subjects for comparison. Instead of col-
ored laments commonly found in marine organisms,
human samples had more transparent laments. We hypothesized
that ingested colored microplastics may be later bleachedby
digestive enzymes during prolonged colonic transit within
humans. While we are unsure of the actual bleaching agent(s) or
processes in-vivo, we postulate that bile salts could be involved.
Future in-vitro tests with microplastics exposed to bile aspirated
during endoscopy could help determine if bleaching of colors
occurs over time.
In humans, toxicity from microplastics exposure is still
unclear due to limited data. Based on ecotoxicology studies in
marine species, microplastics could elicit gut inammation
through changes in intestinal permeability and dysbiosis.
studies in human cell lines, including a recent report on polysty-
rene, some degree of cytotoxicity by microplastics have been
documented especially at high concentration and with smaller
Furthermore, evidence from occupational risk
studies indicate that exposure to plastics might be a potential
cause of colorectal cancer.
Although our study reported the
presence of microplastics in human colon, the relationship
between microplastics exposure and colon cancer in humans
remains speculative. However, individuals with increased intesti-
nal permeability for example, in those with inammatory bowel
Figure 2 Filament form in various colors detected in (A1) normal colon and (A2) colon cancer; (B1) SEM/DX image of morphology and (B2) carbon
counts of a representative plastic sample conrming its polymeric nature. (C1) chemical imaging using micro-FTIR of the three polymers in lament
particles and (C2) respective spectroscopy wavelengths.
Microplastics in human colectomy YS Ibrahim et al.
4JGH Open: An open access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology (2020) 16
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
diseases might have a higher risk of microplastic particle translo-
cation, especially into deeper tissue and blood vessels which
could potentially result in systemic adverse effects.
We would like to highlight several physical characteristics
of the polymers that were identied in this study. PC is a durable
and robust thermoplastic polymer commonly found in electronic
components and construction materials, but also individual drink-
ing bottles and food containers. Bisphenol-A, a by-product
of PC, is a known endocrine disruptor that may cause colon
PA is a component of nylon, commonly found in sh-
nets, and may cause direct inammatory responses in the colon
and indirectly from chemical additives.
PP is a thermoplastic
polymer and because of its inert character, PP is commonly used
in medical applications which include sutures and meshes. In this
present study, we are not able to explain the differences in the
relative abundance of these various polymers. It is postulated that
differential degradation of polymers by gastric and intestinal
secretions may be a factor; however, further studies are needed
to prove this.
We acknowledge that there are limitations to our study.
Colectomy specimens were only obtained as part of the subjects
clinical management, which explains the small sample size in our
study. While stool analysis is not absolutely necessary, if avail-
able this may assist in explaining the possible discrepancy in
polymer characteristics found in stool versus those from colonic
mucosal samples. For example, PC was most abundant in our
colonic specimens; however, stool studies from Schwabl et al.
found that PP was the most frequent polymer detected.
We also
did not attempt to determine the dietary sources of microplastics;
this could have involved seafood, food packaging, or even air-
borne particles. In view of this, having a food diary which lists
down what the subjects consumed may be helpful for future stud-
ies. Only a subset of laments and limited number of polymer
types were investigated due to the time-consuming nature of
processing the samples; there were also nancial constraints. Due
to the exploratory nature of our study and the limitations listed
above, further conrmatory analysis is needed using specimens
from a larger human cohort. Future research should include con-
centrations of colonic microplastics in normal and colorectal car-
cinoma subjects, or even in those with other bowel ailments to
elucidate the cut-off points of these plastic particles and their
relation to colonic diseases.
In conclusion, our preliminary study provides evidence
that microplastics exist in human colonic tissue samples.
The work was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education
(MOHE) of Malaysia through the following research grants;
FRGS 59457 and FRGS 203.PPSP.6171192. We wish to
acknowledge UMT (Centre Lab & INOS) and USM for provid-
ing research facilities, and UNESCO/IOC WESTPAC for train-
ing as well as related technical support.
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6JGH Open: An open access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology (2020) 16
© 2020 The Authors. JGH Open published by Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
... Plastic particles with a diameter of less than 5 mm are now widely acknowledged as a threat to the environment and a health risk to human populations, ranging from oxidative stress to DNA damage (Rochman et al., 2013;Katsnelson 2015;Smith et al., 2018;Prata et al., 2020;Ibrahim et al., 2021;Blackburn and Green 2022). There are two major sources of microplastics (MPs): 1) cosmetics, detergents, sunscreens, and medicine delivery systems all containing plastic powders or particles (Galloway 2015) and 2) bigger plastic pieces breaking down in the environment due to UV radiation, mechanical abrasion, and biological deterioration (Andrady 2011). ...
... Hence, it has been concluded that polystyrene nanoparticles have severe effects on both behavior and metabolism (Mattsson et al., 2015). Therefore, information on MP tissue accumulation in mammalian models would be crucial for determining the risk of MPs to human health (Prata et al., 2020;Ibrahim et al., 2021;Blackburn and Green 2022). ...
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Micro- or nanoplastics, which are fragmented or otherwise tiny plastic materials, have long been a source of environmental worry. Microplastics (MPs) have been well documented to alter the physiology and behavior of marine invertebrates. The effects of some of these factors are also seen in larger marine vertebrates, such as fish. More recently, mouse models have been used to investigate the potential impacts of micro- and nanoplastics on host cellular and metabolic damages as well as mammalian gut flora. The impact on erythrocytes, which carry oxygen to all cells, has not yet been determined. Therefore, the current study aims to ascertain the impact of exposure to various MP exposure levels on hematological alterations and biochemical indicators of liver and kidney functions. In this study, a C57BL/6 murine model was concentration-dependently exposed to microplastics (6, 60, and 600 μg/day) for 15 days, followed by 15 days of recovery. The results demonstrated that exposure to 600 μg/day of MPs considerably impacted RBCs’ typical structure, resulting in numerous aberrant shapes. Furthermore, concentration-dependent reductions in hematological markers were observed. Additional biochemical testing revealed that MP exposure impacted the liver and renal functioning. Taken together, the current study reveals the severe impacts of MPs on mouse blood parameters, erythrocyte deformation, and consequently, anemic patterns of the blood.
... Our study, like many others (i.e., Jamieson et al., 2019;Ibrahim et al., 2020;Li et al., 2020a;Ragusa et al., 2021;Caldwell et al., 2022), did not include a recovery experiment. Recovery studies should be completed for experiments in the future to understand the success of the methods used. ...
... Fibers or filaments have been detected in several human samples including, but not limited to, colectomy (Ibrahim et al., 2020) and lung tissue (Jenner et al., 2022), however in a study on stool samples, fibers were not commonly found (Schwabl et al., 2019). Additional studies have looked at plastics in humans but did not look at morphologies and/or find fibers (e.g., (Ragusa et al., 2021;Leslie et al., 2022)). ...
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Measuring the spatial distribution of microparticles which include synthetic, semi-synthetic, and anthropogenic particles is critical to understanding their potential negative impacts on species. This is particularly important in the context of microplastics, which are a form of microparticle that are prevalent in the marine environment. To facilitate a better understanding of microparticle occurrence, including microplastics, we sampled subadult and young juvenile Black Rockfish ( Sebastes melanops ) at multiple Oregon coast sites, and their gastrointestinal tracts were analyzed to identify ingested microparticles. Of the subadult rockfish, one or more microparticles were found in the GI tract of 93.1% of the fish and were present in fish from Newport, and near four of five marine reserves. In the juveniles, 92% of the fish had ingested one or more microparticles from the area of Cape Foulweather, a comparison area, and Otter Rock, a marine reserve. The subadults had an average of 7.31 (average background = 5) microparticles detected, while the juveniles had 4.21 (average background = 1.8). In both the subadult and juvenile fish, approximately 12% of the microparticles were identified as synthetic using micro-Fourier Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-FTIR). Fibers were the most prevalent morphology identified, and verified microparticle contamination was a complex mixture of synthetic (∼12% for subadults and juveniles), anthropogenic (∼87% for subadults and 85.5% for juveniles), and natural ( e.g. , fur) materials (∼0.7% for subadults and ∼2.4% for juveniles). Similarities in exposure types (particle morphology, particle number) across life stages, coupled with statistical differences in exposure levels at several locations for subadult fish, suggest the potential influence of nearshore oceanographic patterns on microparticle distribution. A deeper understanding of the impact microplastics have on an important fishery such as those for S. melanops , will contribute to our ability to accurately assess risk to both wildlife and humans.
... Several studies in laboratory animals have also demonstrated the intestinal uptake of ingested PS MNPs, with translocation to multiple tissues and organs [14][15][16][17][18], including Peyer's patches, lymph nodes, liver, spleen and blood in rats [15][16][17]; liver, kidney and gut in mice [18] and brain in fish [14]. In addition, MNPs have recently been identified in human tissues, including human colectomy specimens [19], blood from human volunteers which contained multiple highly produced polymers with a mean total blood concentration of 1.6 µg/mL [20], and both maternal and fetal zones of human placentas [21]. The latter findings suggest the potential for maternal-fetal transfer of MNPs, and are consistent with our recent report of the translocation and deposition of 20 nm PS spheres in fetal tissues 24 h after intratracheal instillation in pregnant rats [22]. ...
... Several studies in laboratory animals have also demonstrated the intestinal uptake of ingested PS MNPs, with translocation to multiple tissues and organs [14][15][16][17][18], including Peyer's patches, lymph nodes, liver, spleen and blood in rats [15][16][17]; liver, kidney and gut in mice [18] and brain in fish [14]. In addition, MNPs have recently been identified in human tissues, including human colectomy specimens [19], blood from human volunteers which contained multiple highly produced polymers with a mean total blood concentration of 1.6 μg/mL [20], and both maternal and fetal zones of human placentas [21]. The latter findings suggest the potential for maternal-fetal transfer of MNPs, and are consistent with our recent report of the translocation and deposition of 20 nm PS spheres in fetal tissues 24 h after intratracheal instillation in pregnant rats [22]. ...
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Recent studies in experimental animals found that oral exposure to micro- and nano-plastics (MNPs) during pregnancy had multiple adverse effects on outcomes and progeny, although no study has yet identified the translocation of ingested MNPs to the placenta or fetal tissues, which might account for those effects. We therefore assessed the placental and fetal translocation of ingested nanoscale polystyrene MNPs in pregnant rats. Sprague Dawley rats (N = 5) were gavaged on gestational day 19 with 10 mL/kg of 250 µg/mL 25 nm carboxylated polystyrene spheres (PS25C) and sacrificed after 24 h. Hyperspectral imaging of harvested placental and fetal tissues identified abundant PS25C within the placenta and in all fetal tissues examined, including liver, kidney, heart, lung and brain, where they appeared in 10–25 µm clusters. These findings demonstrate that ingested nanoscale polystyrene MNPs can breach the intestinal barrier and subsequently the maternal–fetal barrier of the placenta to access the fetal circulation and all fetal tissues. Further studies are needed to assess the mechanisms of MNP translocation across the intestinal and placental barriers, the effects of MNP polymer, size and other physicochemical properties on translocation, as well as the potential adverse effects of MNP translocation on the developing fetus.
... We note that most of these papers were published between the years 2021e2022 ( Fig. 1). Regarding the targets of the reviewed investigations, we note the report of a wide range of human biological samples, whose reported MP concentrations were samplesdependent (Table 1), including feces [32,34,36e38,41,44,45,51], placenta [47]; Braun et al., 2021;[32,33,39], meconium [33,45,51]; Liu et al., 2021b;, lung tissue [40,43,49], breastmilk [32,47], thrombi (Wu et al., 2022), sputum [35], spleen [42], liver [42], kidney [42], saliva [46], face [46], hand [46], head [46], colon [52], blood [48] and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) [50]. Feces, meconium, placental and lung tissues, and breast milk comprised the most frequently studied types of samples ( Fig. 2A), like what was reported by Ref. [25]. ...
... Regardless of any adsorbed pollutants, the increased reactivity of aged nano-and microplastics promotes interaction with biomolecules and cells in exposed subjects, enhancing adverse health effects. The presence of microplastics (the only detectable) in different body tissues, as well as their faecal excretion, has been established in several studies (Schwabl, 2019;Ibrahim, 2020;Ragusa, 2020;Amato-Lourenco, 2021;Braun, 2021), making it important to evaluate the pathogenesis of these particulate xenobiotics. ...
Micro and nanoplastics are ubiquitous pollutants that can cause adverse health effects even in humans. Effects of virgin and oxidised (simulating the aging processes) polystyrene nano (nPS) and micro particles (mPS) with diameters of 0.1 and 1µm were studied on human professional phagocytes (i.e., monocyte cells THP-1 and macrophage-like mTHP-1 cells). After characterization by ATR-FTIR, UV-Vis spectroscopy, SEM and dynamic light-scattering analyses, the particles were FITC functionalised to quantify cellular uptake. Changes in the cell compartments were studied by acrydine orange and the pro-oxidant, cytotoxic and genotoxic effects were assessed. Phagocytosis was dose- and time- dependent and at 24h 52% of nPS and 58% of mPS were engulfed. Despite the high homeostasis of professional phagocytes, significant ROS increases and DNA damage were observed after exposure to oxidised particles. The results highlight that the environmental aging processes enhances the adverse health effects of micro and nanoplastics.
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Background: Plastics have conveyed great benefits to humanity and made possible some of the most significant advances of modern civilization in fields as diverse as medicine, electronics, aerospace, construction, food packaging, and sports. It is now clear, however, that plastics are also responsible for significant harms to human health, the economy, and the earth’s environment. These harms occur at every stage of the plastic life cycle, from extraction of the coal, oil, and gas that are its main feedstocks through to ultimate disposal into the environment. The extent of these harms not been systematically assessed, their magnitude not fully quantified, and their economic costs not comprehensively counted. Goals: The goals of this Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health are to comprehensively examine plastics’ impacts across their life cycle on: (1) human health and well-being; (2) the global environment, especially the ocean; (3) the economy; and (4) vulnerable populations—the poor, minorities, and the world’s children. On the basis of this examination, the Commission offers science-based recommendations designed to support development of a Global Plastics Treaty, protect human health, and save lives. Conclusions: It is now clear that current patterns of plastic production, use, and disposal are not sustainable and are responsible for significant harms to human health, the environment, and the economy as well as for deep societal injustices. The main driver of these worsening harms is an almost exponential and still accelerating increase in global plastic production. Plastics’ harms are further magnified by low rates of recovery and recycling and by the long persistence of plastic waste in the environment. The thousands of chemicals in plastics—monomers, additives, processing agents, and non-intentionally added substances—include amongst their number known human carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxicants, and persistent organic pollutants. These chemicals are responsible for many of plastics’ known harms to human and planetary health. The chemicals leach out of plastics, enter the environment, cause pollution, and result in human exposure and disease. All efforts to reduce plastics’ hazards must address the hazards of plastic-associated chemicals.
The emergence of microplastics (MPs) pollution as a global environmental concern has attracted significant attention in the last decade. The majority of the human population spends most of their time indoors, leading to increased exposure to MPs contamination through various sources such as settled dust, air, drinking water, and food. Although research on indoor MPs has intensified significantly in recent years, comprehensive reviews on this topic remain limited. Therefore, this review comprehensively analyses the occurrence, distribution, human exposure, potential health impact, and mitigation strategies of MPs in the indoor air environment. Specifically, we focus on the risks associated with finer MPs that can translocate into the circulatory system and other organs, emphasizing the need for continued research to develop effective strategies to mitigate the risks associated with MPs exposure. Our findings suggest that indoor MPs are a potential risk to human health, and strategies for mitigating exposure should be further explored.
Microplastics (MPs) are plastic particles of a diameter of less than 5 mm and a major carrier of pollution. In accordance with its diameter range, MPs can be divided into micro‐ (100 nm ‐5 mm) and nanoplastics (<100 nm). In recent years, in addition to the impact of MPs on the environment, the ways in which MPs affect the body has also attracted continuous attention. However, relevant studies on the cytotoxicity of MPs are not comprehensive. Based on the current research, this paper summarizes four main cytotoxic mechanisms of MPs, inducing oxidative stress, damaging cell membrane organelles, inducing immune response, and genotoxicity. Generally, MPs cause cytotoxicity such as oxidative stress, damage to cell membranes and organelles, activation of immune responses, and genotoxicity through mechanical damage or induction of cells to produce reactive oxygen species. Understanding these toxic mechanisms is helpful for the evaluation and prevention of human toxicity of MPs. This paper also analyzes the limitations of current research and prospects for future research into cellular MPs, with the aim of providing a scientific basis and reference for further research into the toxic mechanism of MPs. This review elaborates main cytotoxic mechanisms of microplastics (MPs). Generally, MPs cause cytotoxicity such as oxidative stress, damage to cell membranes and organelles, activation of immune responses, and genotoxicity through mechanical damage or induction of cells to produce reactive oxygen species, leading to subsequent adverse effects. This paper also analyzes the limitations of current research and prospects for future research into cellular MPs, with the aim of providing a scientific reference for further research into the toxic mechanism of MPs.
Microplastics from food packaging material have risen in number and dispersion in the aquatic system, the terrestrial environment, and the atmosphere in recent decades. Microplastics are of particular concern due to their long-term durability in the environment, their great potential for releasing plastic monomers and additives/chemicals, and their vector-capacity for adsorbing or collecting other pollutants. Consumption of foods containing migrating monomers can lead to accumulation in the body and the build-up of monomers in the body can trigger cancer. The book chapter focuses the commercial plastic food packaging materials and describes their release mechanisms of microplastics from packaging into foods. To prevent the potential risk of microplastics migrated into food products, the factors influencing microplastic to the food products, e.g., high temperatures, ultraviolet and bacteria, have been discussed. Additionally, as many evidences shows that the microplastic components are toxic and carcinogenic, the potential threats and negative effects on human health have also been highlighted. Moreover, future trends is summarized to reduce the microplastic migration by enhancing public awareness as well as improving waste management.
Microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPs) have attracted much attention since their wide distribution in the environment and organisms. MNPs in the environment adsorb other organic pollutants, such as Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and cause combined effects. However, the impact of MNPs and PFOS in agricultural hydroponic systems is unclear. This study investigated the combined effects of polystyrene (PS) MNPs and PFOS on soybean (Glycine max) sprouts, which are common hydroponic vegetable. Results demonstrated that the adsorption of PFOS on PS particles transformed free PFOS into adsorbed state and reduced its bioavailability and potential migration, thus attenuating acute toxic effects such as oxidative stress. TEM and Laser confocal microscope images showed that PS nanoparticles uptake in sprout tissue was enhanced by the adsorption of PFOS which is because of changes of the particle surface properties. Transcriptome analysis showed that PS and PFOS exposure promoted soybean sprouts to adapt to environmental stress and MARK pathway might play an important role in recognition of microplastics coated by PFOS and response to enhancing plant resistance. This study provided the first evaluation about the effect of adsorption between PS particles and PFOS on their phytotoxicity and bioavailability, in order to provide new ideas for risk assessment.
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Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has been extensively used in microplastic (MP) pollution research since 2004. The aim of this review is to discuss and highlight the recent advances in FTIR (spectroscopy and chemical imaging) techniques that are used to characterize various polymer types of MPs and to trace their fate and transport in different environmental matrices. More than 400 research papers dealing with FTIR techniques in MP pollution research, which are published between January 2010 and December 2019, have been identified from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. The MPs present in sediment, water (marine and freshwater), biota, air/dust, waste water treatment plants and salt are further classified according to (1) characterization and identification, (2) weathering and aging, (3) ecotoxicology, and (4) analytical methods. The results revealed that the ATR-FTIR technique is mostly used to identify and characterize the MPs found in water and sediment. The µFTIR (FTIR imaging) is extensively used to study the ingestion of MPs in biota (both marine and freshwater). In this article, we have summarized the current knowledge of application of FTIR spectroscopy to MP research and provided insights to future challenges for understanding the risk of MPs.
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The psychological impact of outbreaks on individuals includes an intense and wide range of psychiatric morbidities. People are likely to experience feelings as; worry about being infected or getting sick, increased self-blame, and helplessness. This study aimed to assess the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and social support among Egyptian adults during the period of the pandemic. This is a cross-sectional observational study using an anonymous online questionnaire. The survey was conducted through a link shared on social networking sites. It was conducted from 2 May 2020 to 9 May 2020. The general populations of the Egyptian adults were included by using convenience and snowball sampling technique (510 adults). Impact Event scale mean 34.3 ± 15. About 211 (41.4%) suffered a severe impact. There was an increase in stress from work in 174 (34.1%), financial stress in 284 (55.7%), and stress from home in 320 (62.7%). Half of them felt horrified and helpless in 275 (53.9%), and 265 (52%) respectively, while 338 (66.3%) felt apprehensive. only 24.2% reported increased support from friends, while increased support from family members in 207 (40.6%). 46.5% shared their feelings with family members, while 176 (34.5%) shared with others. Caring for family members’ feelings increased in 330 (64.7%). Age and rural residency were negative predictors for the impact of event score, while female gender or presence of chronic condition was a positive predictor for the impact of event score. Covid-19 pandemic has a great psychological impact on adult Egyptians and affected social support.
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Environmental pollution arising from plastic waste is a major global concern. Plastic macroparticles, microparticles, and nanoparticles have the potential to affect marine ecosystems and human health. It is generally accepted that microplastic particles are not harmful or at best minimal to human health. However direct contact with microplastic particles may have possible adverse effect in cellular level. Primary polystyrene (PS) particles were the focus of this study, and we investigated the potential impacts of these microplastics on human health at the cellular level. We determined that PS particles were potential immune stimulants that induced cytokine and chemokine production in a size-dependent and concentration-dependent manner.
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The ubiquity of microplastics in aquatic and terrestrial environments and related ecological impacts have gained global attention. Microplastics have been detected in table salt, drinking water, and air, posing inevitable human exposure risk. However, rigorous analytical methods for detection and characterization of microplastics remain scarce. Knowledge about the potential adverse effects on human health via dietary and respiratory exposures is also limited. To address these issues, we reviewed 46 publications concerning abundances, potential sources, and analytical methods of microplastics in table salt, drinking water, and air. We also summarized probable translocation and accumulation pathways of microplastics within human body. Human body burdens of microplastics through table salt, drinking water, and inhalation were estimated to be (0–7.3)×104, (0–4.7)×103, and (0–3.0)×107 items per person per year, respectively. The intake of microplastics via inhalation, especially via indoor air, was much higher than those via other exposure routes. Moreover, microplastics in the air impose threats to both respiratory and digestive systems through breathing and ingestion. Given the life-time inevitable exposure to microplastics, we urgently call for a better understanding of the potential hazards of microplastics to human health.
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Fragmented or otherwise miniaturized plastic materials in the form of micro- or nanoplastics have been of nagging environmental concern. Perturbation of organismal physiology and behavior by micro- and nanoplastics have been widely documented for marine invertebrates. Some of these effects are also manifested by larger marine vertebrates such as fishes. More recently, possible effects of micro- and nanoplastics on mammalian gut microbiota as well as host cellular and metabolic toxicity have been reported in mouse models. Human exposure to micro- and nanoplastics occurs largely through ingestion, as these are found in food or derived from food packaging, but also in a less well-defined manner though inhalation. The pathophysiological consequences of acute and chronic micro- and nanoplastics exposure in the mammalian system, particularly humans, are yet unclear. In this review, we focus on the recent findings related to the potential toxicity and detrimental effects of micro- and nanoplastics as demonstrated in mouse models as well as human cell lines. The prevailing data suggest that micro- and nanoplastics accumulation in mammalian and human tissues would likely have negative, yet unclear long-term consequences. There is a need for cellular and systemic toxicity due to micro- and nanoplastics to be better illuminated, and the underlying mechanisms defined by further work.
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The distribution and abundance of microplastics into the world are so extensive that many scientists use them as key indicators of the recent and contemporary period defining a new historical epoch: The Plasticene. However, the implications of microplastics are not yet thoroughly understood. There is considerable complexity involved to understand their impact due to different physical-chemical properties that make microplastics multifaceted stressors. If, on the one hand, microplastics carry toxic chemicals in the ecosystems, thus serving as vectors of transport, they are themselves, on the other hand, a cocktail of hazardous chemicals that are added voluntarily during their production as additives to increase polymer properties and prolong their life. To date, there is a considerable lack of knowledge on the major additives of concern that are used in the plastic industry, on their fate once microplastics dispose into the environment, and on their consequent effects on human health when associated with micro and nanoplastics. The present study emphasizes the most toxic and dangerous chemical substances that are contained in all plastic products to describe the effects and implications of these hazardous chemicals on human health, providing a detailed overview of studies that have investigated their abundance on microplastics. In the present work, we conducted a capillary review of the literature on micro and nanoplastic exposure pathways and their potential risk to human health to summarize current knowledge with the intention of better focus future research in this area and fill knowledge gaps.
Exposure of microplastics (MPs) to a cohort of adults of various demographics from different regions of Iran has been quantitatively assessed. Specifically, MPs were retrieved from filtered washes of the hand and face skin, head hair and saliva of individuals (n = 2000) after an exposure period of 24 h and were counted and, in a selected number of cases, characterised for shape-form and size microscopically. A total of over 16,000 MPs were recorded in the study, with head hair returning the most samples (> 7000, or, on average, >3.5 MPs per individual per day), saliva returning the least samples (about 650, or on average 0.33 MPs per individual), and MPs about twice as high in males than females. The number of MPs was similar amongst residents of different urbanised regions, albeit with evidence of greater quantities captured in more humid settings, and was considerably lower in residents of a remote and sparsely populated area. Polyethylene-polyethylene tere-phthalate and polypropylene fibres of < 100 μm in length, likely derived from clothing and soft furnishings in the indoor setting and a wider range of sources in the exterior environment, were the most abundant type of MP in all body receptors. Daily sampling of receptors from six participants over a seven-day period revealed that, despite these broad trends, both inter-and intra-individual exposure was highly heterogeneous. Although the present study has demonstrated the ubiquity of MP exposure, the resulting impacts on human health are unknown.
The microplastic contamination of seafood species is increasingly becoming a global concern due to its potential influence on food safety and human health. This study investigated the presence and seasonal variation of microplastics in a commercially important marine shrimp species, Fenneropenaeus indicus, from the coastal waters of Cochin, India. The soft tissues of 330 shrimps were examined over a period of 12 months, from March 2018 to February 2019. A total of 128 microplastics were detected, of which 83% were fibres. An average (mean ± SD) of 0.39 ± 0.6 microplastics/shrimp (0.04 ± 0.07 microplastics/g wet weight) was obtained from the shrimps sampled. Microplastic contamination was significantly higher in July–August (Monsoon season) compared with other months. This study reports microplastic contamination in F. indicus for the first time. Results also suggest that consumption of peeled but undeveined or whole dried white shrimps can be one of the ways of the human uptake of microplastics, especially during the monsoon season.
This study investigates the presence of microplastics in surface seawater and zooplankton at five different lo- cations off the Terengganu coast in Malaysia, southern South China Sea. A total of 983 microplastic particles, with an average abundance of 3.3 particles L−1 were found in surface seawater. An average of one plastic particle was detected in 130 individuals from 6 groups of zooplankton. These groups include fish larvae, cy- clopoid, shrimps, polychaete, calanoid and chaetognath where they ingested 0.14, 0.13, 0.01, 0.007, 0.005 and 0.003 particle per individual, respectively. Microplastics in the form of fragments are the most common type of ingested microplastics that ranged between 0.02 mm (cyclopoid) – 1.68 mm (shrimp and zoea). Contrastingly, fibers, which are identified as polyamide are the main type of microplastics that dominate in seawater.