A shocking research by a group of Austrian researchers has revealed that they have found microplastic in stool samples from every single person of a small group of international test subjects. “Plastics are pervasive in everyday life and humans are exposed to plastics in numerous ways,” said Philipp Schwable, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna, who led the study.
Let me take you through the whole journey as to how plastic ends up in our poop. You know how we humans just have love using plastic even though we know its non-biodegradable and then dumping it, especially in oceans. To put it in numbers, that’s almost 8 billion metric tonnes in a year. For comparison purposes, that’s equivalent to 822,000 Eiffel Towers or 25,000 Empire State buildings. That seems a lot.
This plastic then gets broken down into tiny bits and the ones smaller than 5 millimeters wide are called microplastics. These puny pieces get ingested by the marine life including fish which in turn ends up on our plates, sometimes in the form of fish and chips. However, we can talk about food a little later.
This last part is what worries not only ecologists but also gastroenterologists. If microplastics are ingested by the food we eat, that means it ends up in our stomachs and intestines as well. And well, we poop what we eat. However, even Philipp Schwable who conducted the research did not expect every single person to test positive.
The pilot study tested eight subjects from eight different countries. These countries were Austria, Italy, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the UK. Each maintained a food diary the week before donating their stools. They then deposited the same in glass jars, wrapped in biohazard bags, and shipped in cardboard boxes. These boxes were marked “Biological Substance, Category B” to the Environment Agency Austria for analysis. This is the first time a study like this has been conducted. On average, the researchers turned up 20 particles of microplastic per quarter pound of poop.
According to reports, almost half the plastic that has been ever manufactured came in the 21st century. Moreover, only 20% of this is recycled.
By Abhishek Aggarwal