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Scientists find microplastics in human hearts and blood

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Microplastics, the tiny toxic particles that all plastics shed, appear to be accumulating in one of our bodies’ most important organs: our hearts. In July 2023, scientists published research from a small pilot study that shows evidence that microplastics are present in multiple types of human heart tissues, and backs up research confirming its presence in our blood.

Abstract: Microplastics have been detected in human stool, lungs, and placentas, which have direct exposure to the external environment through various body cavities, including the oral/anal cavity and uterine/vaginal cavity. Crucial data on microplastic exposure in completely enclosed human organs are still lacking. Herein, we used a laser direct infrared chemical imaging system and scanning electron microscopy to investigate whether microplastics exist in the human heart and its surrounding tissues. Microplastic specimens were collected from 15 cardiac surgery patients, including 6 pericardia, 6 epicardial adipose tissues, 11 pericardial adipose tissues, 3 myocardia, 5 left atrial appendages, and 7 pairs of pre- and postoperative venous blood samples. Microplastics were not universally present in all tissue samples, but nine types were found across five types of tissue with the largest measuring 469 μm in diameter. Nine types of microplastics were also detected in pre- and postoperative blood samples with a maximum diameter of 184 μm, and the type and diameter distribution of microplastics in the blood showed alterations following the surgical procedure. Moreover, the presence of poly(methyl methacrylate) in the left atrial appendage, epicardial adipose tissue, and pericardial adipose tissue cannot be attributed to accidental exposure during surgery, providing direct evidence of microplastics in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Further research is needed to examine the impact of surgery on microplastic introduction and the potential effects of microplastics in internal organs on human health.

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