The Dangers of Microplastics Are Getting Real


A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives discusses the alarming presence and effects of microplastics (MPs) in various human tissues. This research, which was funded by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigates how ingested polymer microspheres can cross the gut barrier and accumulate in organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys. In many ways, this research may open the door to understanding the underlying factors of the dramatic rise in various conditions in the last thirty to forty years. The problem is that this study merely supports mountains of other research saying similar things. Yet, for whatever reason, many of us are not listening.

Nonetheless, this recent study exposed mice to polystyrene and mixed polymer microspheres to evaluate their translocation across the gut barrier and subsequent accumulation in different organs. The findings demonstrated that microplastics could indeed penetrate these barriers and accumulate in vital organs, potentially leading to metabolic changes and numerous other negative health effects. Of course, this truth might present a significant problem for many of us.

Potential Dangers of Microplastics

We have to be honest with ourselves and understand that microplastics are pervasive in our environment, and their potential health impacts are becoming increasingly concerning. At the same time, the volume of microplastics (and forever chemicals) is rising as well. The list is long, but here are some key areas where microplastics have been found in the body and their possible effects:

  • Intestinal Tissues: Microplastics can accumulate in the gut lining, causing inflammation and potentially disrupting the microbiome.
  • Liver and Kidneys: These organs can harbor microplastics, which may lead to damage over time.
  • Placentas and Fetal Tissues: Studies have detected microplastics in placentas, which would have obvious repercussions.
  • Testicles: Yup! They have even found microplastics in the testicles, which (of course) affects fertility.
  • Lung Tissues: Inhaled microplastics can accumulate in lung tissue, potentially leading to respiratory issues.
  • Cellular and Blood-Brain Barrier Penetration: Smaller microplastics (200-700 nm) can enter human cells and cross the blood-brain barrier, possibly leading to systemic health and hormone issues.

Now, there is little doubt that this problem is going to get worse. After all, we are not seeing much change regarding packaging or cleanup efforts. Similarly, there is no doubt that many of my readers are likely concerned about this problem and what this problem might mean for their health. So, rather than simply share the potential dangers, I want to also offer you some actions that can be taken to help reduce your exposure and protect yourself and your family.

Help Protect Yourself from Microplastics

1. Dietary Adjustments

  • Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet: Fiber, particularly from fruits, can help detoxify the digestive system, potentially expelling microplastics before they get too deep.
  • Activated Charcoal Supplements: This detox supplement can absorb chemicals and toxins in the digestive tract. However, it should be used periodically and not daily, as it can interfere with nutrient absorption.

2. Physical Activity

  • Sweating and Exercise: Physical activities that promote sweating can help the body eliminate toxins, including microplastics.

3. Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Microplastic Exposure

  • Food Packaging: Choose fresh, whole foods over processed or packaged foods to reduce exposure to microplastics from packaging.
  • Avoid Heating Food in Plastic: Use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic ones.
  • Drink from Non-Plastic Containers: Opt for glass or stainless steel water bottles and avoid plastic straws.
  • Choose Natural and Eco-Friendly Products: Select personal care items without microbeads and prefer natural, biodegradable packaging.
  • Clothing and Textiles: Choose natural fibers over synthetic ones to minimize exposure to microplastics from clothing.

4. Home Water Filtration

  • Boiling and Filtering Water: Some research indicates that boiling and filtering water can remove up to 90% of nanoplastics and microplastics, depending on the water type. Of course, filtering with a quality filter should be standard practice by now – especially considering the number of contaminants that are known to be in our water.

What to Do if You Suspect Health Issues from Microplastics

1. Seek Medical Help

  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: If you suspect that microplastic exposure is affecting your health, consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and guidance.
  • Medical Tests and Treatments: Physicians may recommend specific tests to identify and address any health issues linked to microplastic exposure.

2. Home Strategies

  • Detoxification: Continue with dietary and lifestyle adjustments that support detoxification.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Keep track of any symptoms and discuss them with your healthcare provider to tailor a management plan.

Clearly, trying to detoxify the body from microplastics is crucial for long-term health. However, by being mindful of daily habits, making dietary adjustments, and utilizing specific detoxification methods, you should be able to limit your exposure, reduce your body’s toxic load, and enhance overall well-being.

The key is understanding the potential dangers of microplastics and taking proactive steps to help mitigate their impact on health. The study in question really demonstrates the importance of continued research and awareness to better comprehend and combat the effects of microplastic exposure. And while we still don’t know the best ways to eliminate microplastics (or forever chemicals) from our bodies, rest assured that research is already underway to try and find a resolution. In the interim, we just have to do what we can to keep as much of it out of systems as possible.

Keep learning! Be sure to check out my article titled Navigating Chronic And Rare Disease

Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.