Down in the Dumps
When a team of scientists from the Medical University of Vienna dug through a series of human stool samples, they found tons of microplastics.
That’s according to new research shared Tuesday at the United European Gastroenterology conference, where the team reported that they’d found 20 particles of plastic per ten grams of, uh, sample material. There are some caveats — more on that in a minute — but the findings are a worrisome sign that we’ve polluted the food chain with potentially dangerous plastic products.
Making a Splash
It’s becoming harder to avoid confronting the fact that we’ve coated the planet in garbage. Now, even our bowels may have become dumping grounds for industrial waste.
Microbeads, small spheres of plastic common in exfoliating skincare products, have or are about to be banned in many countries because they’re too small to filter out of water systems. But that hasn’t stopped other microplastics from popping up everywhere, from the oceans and drinking water to organisms throughout the food web. Microplastics are any shred of plastic shorter than five millimeters, which is about the length of an ant.
A closer look at the data, though, may sink this plastic-laden floater. As Gizmodo pointed out, it’s possible that samples were contaminated, given that the plastics identified are commonly used in medical equipment. Also, a press release boasted that the study included “participants from eight countries across the world,” when in fact there were only eight volunteer poopers altogether — way too few to draw, uh, solid conclusions.
So while this particular study may not stand up to scrutiny, keep your eyes peeled — the team behind the research is calling for a greater investigation into plastic in our poops.
READ MORE: Scientists Say They’ve Found Microplastics in People’s Poop, But Don’t Worry Just Yet [Gizmodo]
More on microplastics: You’re Probably Drinking Microplastics With Your Bottled Water