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Microplastics Cause Damage to Human Cells, Study Shows

Harm included cell death and occurred at levels of plastic eaten by people via their food

Microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at the levels known to be eaten by people via their food, a study has found.

The harm included cell death and allergic reactions and the research is the first to show this happens at levels relevant to human exposure. However, the health impact to the human body is uncertain because it is not known how long microplastics remain in the body before being excreted.

Microplastics pollution has contaminated the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. People were already known to consume the tiny particles via food and water as well as breathing them in.

The research analysed 17 previous studies which looked at the toxicological impacts of microplastics on human cell lines. The scientists compared the level of microplastics at which damage was caused to the cells with the levels consumed by people through contaminated drinking waterseafood and table salt.