< Phoebe Stapleton, Ph.D. featured in TIME Magazine: Your Bottled Water Probably Has Plastic In It. Should You Worry? - EOHSI | EOHSI

Phoebe Stapleton, Ph.D., A.T.C. featured in TIME Magazine: Your Bottled Water Probably Has Plastic In It. Should You Worry?

Last month, a study published in Nature Geoscience found that microplastic particles were blowing through the air of the verdant Pyrenees Mountains in France. Another study published this year found microplastic contamination in U.S. groundwater. “Every time and everywhere we look for plastics in a scientific context, we find them,” says Phoebe Stapleton, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University.

That includes in people. A small 2018 study analyzed stool samples taken from people in Finland, Japan, Italy, Russia and other countries. Every sample contained microplastics.

“We know that humans are exposed to these particles,” Stapleton says. “We know they get into our body through ingestion and inhalation, and depending on their size, we know they usurp the natural physiological barriers.” This means some of these plastic particles are small enough to pass through the body’s protective tissues and into the bloodstream and organs, she explains.

There’s also evidence in animals and lab tissues that suggests females who are pregnant may pass these microplastics on to their unborn offspring. “Preliminary [rodent] studies from our group, and published studies from others, indicate that after maternal exposure, these particles have the propensity to cross the placental barrier and enter the fetal compartment, depositing in fetal organs,” Stapleton says.

What’s not clear, though, is how this plastic exposure affects human health. “Unfortunately, we do not currently know the toxicological outcomes of these exposures,” she says. The notion that plastics are accumulating in our bodies “is uncomfortable and scary,” she says. “But the studies to prove [negative effects] need to be done.”


(Source: TIME Magazine 5-29-2019)

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