How Can We Detect Microplastics In Our Bodies And The Environment

There is some evidence that microplastics have been absorbed by the human body. In a 2020 study, researchers found microplastics in the stool samples of 80% of the participants. The researchers also found that the concentration of microplastics in the stool samples was higher in people who consumed more processed foods.

In another study, researchers found microplastics in the blood of 17 out of 22 participants. The researchers also found that the concentration of microplastics in the blood was higher in people who lived in areas with more air pollution.

These studies provide some evidence that microplastics can be absorbed by the human body. However, more research is needed to understand the full extent of the problem and the potential health risks associated with microplastic exposure.

Some of the ways that technology is being used to identify microplastics in the human body and the environment:

Optical microscopy: This is a technique that uses light to magnify objects so that they can be seen more clearly. Optical microscopy can be used to identify microplastics in water, soil, and other environmental samples. It can also be used to identify microplastics in human tissue, such as lung tissue or stool samples.

Scanning electron microscopy: This is a technique that uses a beam of electrons to create images of objects.  The signals that derive from electron-sample interactions reveal information about the sample including external morphology (texture), chemical composition, and crystalline structure and orientation of materials making up the sample.

Transmission electron microscopy:  Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) are microscopes that use a particle beam of electrons to visualise specimens and generate a highly-magnified image.

Atomic absorption spectroscopy: This is a technique that uses light to measure the amount of certain elements in a sample. Atomic absorption spectroscopy can be used to measure the amount of plastic in a sample.

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry: This is a technique that uses a plasma to ionize atoms and molecules in a sample. The ions are then passed through a mass spectrometer, which measures their mass-to-charge ratio. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry can be used to identify and quantify the amount of plastic in a sample.

These are just a few of the ways that technology is being used to identify microplastics in the human body and the environment. As research into microplastic pollution continues, new technologies are being developed to improve our ability to detect and quantify microplastics. But it is vital for our existence that we get on with it and realise the dangers to our bodies and the environment.

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