Microplastic Contamination in Human Stools, Foods, and Drinking Water Associated with Indonesian Coastal Population

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Scientists find microplastics in human feces samples collected among people living in a fishing community in the coastal area of Surabaya, Indonesia. Microplastics were also found in staple foods, including seafoods, and drinking water, table salt, and toothpaste used by study participants.

Abstract: Approximately 381 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year, and the majority of it ends up as pollutants. In the environment, plastic waste is fragmented into microplastic particles less than 5 mm in size; owing to their small size, durability, and abundance, they can easily be dispersed, incorporated into the food chains, and enter the human body. The extent of microplastic exposure in the human body has become a major concern in many countries, including in Indonesia, the second largest plastic waste contributor in the world. Here, we report the detection of microplastics in human stools collected from a fisherman community in the coastal area of Surabaya, Indonesia. Microplastics were found in more than 50% of samples analyzed with a concentration ranging from 3.33 to 13.99 µg of microplastic per gram of feces (µg/g). HDPE was observed as the most prevalent type of microplastic, with an average concentration of 9.195 µg/g in positive samples. Different types of microplastics were also detected in seafood, staple foods, drinking water, table salts, and toothpaste, which were regularly used and consumed by the study participants. Results from this preliminary study indicate widespread contamination of microplastic in the human body and in consumables associated with the coastal populations of Indonesia.

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