What microplastics do to your body
Plastic never gets destroyed... it just gets smaller.
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that break off and become smaller and irregularly sized as they degrade -
The hazards of microplastics are mainly due to the high specific surface area, which is easy to adsorb organic pollutants, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms, and plastic additives released during the cracking process
When they get even smaller than a "microplastic" they turn into a "nanoplastic".... and the smaller they get, the more they can negatively impact our body.
They've been found in the human heart, the lungs and pretty much everywhere else - and even though they're excreted and don't bioaccumulate like other toxic chemicals (PFAS) they're still super harmful to us merely because of the sheer volume at which we consume them.
Depending on their size they can penetrate the blood brain barrier and have been shown to be linked to cognitive decline, accelerated neurodegeneration and aggravated onset of Parkinsons & Alzheimers.
In a recent study, the researchers found that microplastic exposure induced both behavioral changes and alterations in immune markers in liver and brain tissues. The study mice began to move and behave peculiarly, exhibiting behaviors akin to dementia in humans. The results were even more profound in older animals.
The Gut Microbiome
Microplastics disrupt our gut microbiome - and having a disrupted gut microbiome is responsible for causing many other issues in our body. Having a disrupted gut microbiome can lead to obesity and psychological issues.
Suppressed Immune Response
Microplastics cause a suppressed immune response - with an increase in acute toxicity with a decrease in size.
"Microplastics often enter the esophagus, stomach and intestines through the mouth, so its toxic effect is obvious in the digestive tract. Microplastics can cause disorders of the intestinal flora, destroy the ratio of probiotics and pathogenic bacteria; reduce the secretion of intestinal mucus, damage the intestinal mucosal epithelium, and ultimately lead to destruction of the intestinal barrier; cause fatty acid and amino acid metabolism disorders, which lipid deposition"
"The hazard evaluation of MNPLs is in its infancy, especially when referring to their carcinogenic risk. However, some publications in the literature have associated MNPLs exposure with different biomarkers linked to the carcinogenesis process such as chronic inflammation, genotoxicity/mutagenicity, and fibrosis."
Microplastics can cause an excessive production of free radicals and nitrogen species, which in turn can initiate key events that may result in mutations, leading to the development of breast cancer.
If this production becomes chronic, it could also lead to gastric cancer. Some of these key events, such as inflammation, may not always directly lead to tumor formation but can be considered early indicators of an elevated cancer risk.
The toxicity of MPs was often attributed to the numerous additives added to the plastic polymers during the processing and fabrication of products either to modify their properties or to control their degradation.
The most commonly used additives in different types of polymeric materials are:
- plasticizers (i.e., phthalates, adipates, etc.)
- flame retardants (i.e., PBDEs, antimony, etc.)
- stabilizers and antioxidants (i.e., BPA, cadmium and lead compounds, nonylphenol compounds, BHA, etc.)
- acid scavengers
- light and heat stabilizers
- colorants and pigments
Plastic additives were reported to be responsible for oxidative stress, endocrine disruption, impaired lipid metabolism and even cancer in many organisms, including humans.
Microplastics are able to absorb and concentrate on their surface many pollutants such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), antibiotics, endocrines disrupting chemicals (EDCs), bacteria, viruses, and resting stages of potentially hazardous organisms.
The smaller the particle size, the higher the effects.