By 1News

A recent study by scientists in the Netherlands has for the first time shown microplastics are showing up in human blood.

Microplastics are miniature plastics, generally smaller than 5mm in width.

The study - published in the journal Environmental International - surveyed 22 people and found microplastics in the blood of 17.

Professor Sally Gaw, from the University of Canterbury, told TVNZ’s Breakfast: “It’s likely that was a European study, we could have more, we like carpet in New Zealand and quite often carpet is a plastic as well."

There are a number of factors which lead to humans ingesting microplastics, Gaw said.

"It depends whether people put things in their mouths or not, people who chew their pens well of course you’re gonna have microplastics.”

A report from the University of Newcastle said people could be ingesting up to five grams of microplastics every week.

Gaw agreed with this information and said “they’re everywhere".

Gaw added however, this doesn’t come as a shock.

“They’ve also been shown in the human placenta before so it’s not surprising that they’re in people’s blood, not surprising at all.”

She said there are still a lot of unknowns: "We have very little information from actual humans but there’s some information being pulled together where they’ve used human cell lines and the evidence from the humans cell lines, so this is in a lab study, petri dishes with cells in them, is that yes there are impacts on cells, there are impacts on cells that suggest there may be cell death and there are also sort of markers of disease showing up in those cells."

“If we found those markers in a human, those are chemical markers, then we would expect that’s a precursor to developing diseases.”

Gaw said people are completely surrounded by plastic, “so we need to decide as a society, what do we want to use plastic for?”

She added there are ways to reduce exposure to plastic: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to use plastic containing products on the body if you can and I don’t think it’s a good idea to heat your food in plastic either."

“So there are some little tweaks people can make, but there is that big global conversation.”

Top Image: Person holding microplastics. (File photo) Photo: iStock

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