Plastic in your Poop

Microplastics are making their way through you.

A recent discovery presented at the United European Gastroenterology conference this past week had some shocking findings – there is plastic in your poop.

In fact, of 8 people studied, all 8 had microplastics found in their stool samples. You might want to sweep this under the rug thinking those 8 people lived in the same area. But no, those 8 people lived in a wide geographical area. From Japan to Italy to Russia and more. Every single person studied had about 20 pieces of microplastics per 10 grams of stool. Every. Single. One.

That means that right now your liver, kidneys, stomach, and intestinal tract are filtering out microplastics. Microplastics are defined as plastic pieces smaller than a half a centimeter (5mm). These microplastics can be made right in your kitchen, found on your local football field, or created when larger plastics like bags and bottles break down.

In the history of the world, we have created nearly 400 million metric tons of plastic. 400 million. Since plastic doesn’t break down as glass or paper do, we end up creating microplastics that are rampaging our environment.

Microplastics in our gut

Studies in fish have shown that tiny microplastics can accumulate in the gut. This takes up stomach space and, if it becomes significant, can begin to starve an animal. To add more fear to the fire, these microplastics can become so small that they can enter our bloodstream or lymphatic system. That means these tiny plastics can hijack some of the most finely tuned and important systems we rely on to stay healthy.

“This is the first study of its kind and confirms what we have long suspected, that plastics ultimately reach the human gut. Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases. While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the blood stream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver. Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health.” – Dr Phillip Shwabl

What you can do

Plastic pollution is a huge problem and growing every day. You can help out by being thoughtful on your plastic use. Bring reusable bags to the store instead of using plastic ones. Purchase a steel water bottle to refill throughout the day. Purchase glass Tupperware instead of plastic. Basically, anytime you are about to use a plastic ask yourself – is there another alternative that is healthier for me and the environment?

microplastics kitchen sponge

Microplastics found after using a kitchen sponge. via Wikicommons

microplastics from field to farm

Microplastics from football fields can be washed into local gardens or stream beds. via wikicommons

Microplastics in the gut of perch larvae

Studies have shown how some microplastics can accumulate in the stomach of larval Perch fish. via Wikicomons

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