Temporal trends in microplastic accumulation in placentas from pregnancies in Hawaiʻi

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Scientists find a “disturbing increase” in microplastics found in human placentas over the 15 year period from 2006 to 2021. They also observed hormone-disrupting and health-harming phthalates and bisphenol plastic-additive chemicals in the samples.

  • -In 2006, 6 of the 10 placentas contained microplastics.
  • -In 2013, microplastics were found in 9 of the 10 placentas.
  • -In 2021, researchers found microplastics in all 10 placentas.”

Abstract: Microplastics are created for commercial use, are shed from textiles, or result from the breakdown of larger plastic items. Recent reports have shown that microplastics accumulate in human tissues and may have adverse health consequences. Currently, there are no standardized environmental monitoring systems to track microplastic accumulation within human tissues. Using Raman spectroscopy, we investigated the temporal exposures to plastic pollution in Hawaiʻi and noted a significant increase in the accumulation of microplastics in discarded placentas over the past 15 years, with changes in the size and chemical composition of the polymers. These findings provide a rare insight into the vulnerability and sensitivity of Pacific Island residents to plastic pollution and illustrate how discarded human tissues can be used as an innovative environmental plastic pollution monitoring system.

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