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Nanoplastics are tiny particles that are dangerous to your health. A study published in the Science Bulletin journal proves how tiny plastic particles can pose health risks to humans.
Plastic pollutants can be present in the water and air through extremely tiny particles called nanoparticles. Nanoparticles can be produced once plastics start to deteriorate. Since they are present everywhere, nanoplastics can pass through our human bodies which would lead to side effects.
Impact on Intestinal Microbes and Genes
Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), the CREAF, and the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM) at the University of Aveiro, Portugal revealed in their recent study that nanoplastics can upset humans’ intestinal microbes.
In the study, it was found out that nanoparticles side effects are both experienced by vertebrates and invertebrates. These side effects can be seen if there is widespread exposure to nanoplastics. The researchers added that since nanoplastic penetrate microbiomes it can directly affect humans’ health.
Before, scientists used aquatic animals like crustaceans and fish to study the effects of exposure to nanoplastics. However, recently scientists used the cell components of fish and mammals through vitro analysis which allowed them to extensively study the effect of nanoplastics on genes.
Effects on the Human Body
Researchers mentioned that the data they have gathered in animal models can be observed in humans as well. In addition to this claim, they also highlighted the importance of an accurate quantity of nanoplastics in the environment to study further its effects on human cells.
“This article does not aim to raise the alarm,” says Mariana Teles, a researcher at the UAB. She added that it is a warning to all of us since we are surrounded and exposed to plastics.
Their study presented how nanoplastics can enter human bodies. According to them, nanoplastics can infiltrate by inhaling, ingesting, and very rarely through contact with human skin.
The researchers also stated that once these particles are consumed, 90% of plastic components can be eliminated but since nanoplastics are relatively small they can invade the human body and can harm the cells.
This can also threaten the human’ immune system. The study observed in animals suggests that if humans are exposed long to plastics, there will be changes in the genes over time.
Effects of Nanoplastics on the Environment
To further verify their claim on nanoplastic, the team of Mariana Teles, a member of (Evolutive Immunology Group, IBB-UAB) wrote and published a second article on the effects of nanoplastics in fish.
The article which was published in Environmental Science is a result of Irene Brandt’s thesis directed by Nerea Roher. The scientists exposed the zebrafish to nanoplastics.
Results showed that nanoplastics piled up in cells and embryos of the fish have caused changes in their genes. However, scientists also identified that despite the exposure to nanoplastics of zebrafish, the ability to survive was not affected.
Due to this, the researchers need further research to better analyze the possible consequences of nanoplastics.
Using Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Teles advised the public that for everyone to solve the plastic solution, policies on protecting the environment should be strengthened. She added that we must always maximize the use of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic and practice recycling.
Furthermore, she recommended that authorities could think of environmental actions such as tax benefits for those who reuse plastic materials. In this way, people will be encouraged to use environmentally friendly materials.
The results of the study are alarming since everyone is always exposed to plastic use. You need to be wary and use eco-friendly alternatives to minimize health risks.