Microplastics and Nanoplastics: A Hidden Danger to Human Health


A recent review published in the journal Environmental Analysis Health and Toxicology by the Korean Society of Environmental Health and Toxicology and the Korea Society for Environmental Analysis has revealed serious health impacts from microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPs).

The study, which examined over 80 case reports, found that MNPs primarily enter the human body through eating and breathing. These findings highlight the urgent need to tackle the widespread presence of these tiny plastic particles in our environment due to their significant health risks.

Previous studies have shown that a person can inhale up to 22 million microplastics and nanoplastics every year. In addition to its detrimental effects on the male and female reproductive systems, the study also revealed that these particles can harm the digestive system, causing oxidative stress, inflammation, gut bacteria imbalances, and metabolic disorders. Specific cases linked MNP exposure to stomach injuries and liver problems, indicating that MNPs can seriously damage important organs over time. MNPs found in food and water make them a hidden danger that can gradually affect digestive health.

The respiratory system is also at risk from MNPs. The research discovered that breathing in these particles can worsen conditions like asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, especially in workplaces where plastic production is common. This underscores the dangers faced by workers in these industries and the need for stricter rules and protective measures to safeguard public health.

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In addition to digestive and respiratory issues, the study linked MNP exposure to other health problems, including nervous system disorders, reproductive issues, bone health interference, kidney problems, and heart disease. These findings show that MNPs have a broad impact on human health, calling for immediate action to reduce exposure. Since 99% of plastics come from fossil fuel chemicals, there are also associated short- and long-term health hazards. Monitoring MNP levels in the environment, controlling plastic production and disposal, and raising public awareness are crucial steps to protect human health from these widespread pollutants.

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