In the closing bit on George Carlin's legendary Jammin' in New York special, the sagely comic offered his take on the non-biodegradable nature of plastic. Carlin theorized that if plastic is genuinely indestructible, the earth would "simply incorporate plastic into itself." From the looks of a recent study, it seems like the human body is already trying to strike a merger with plastic.
For the first time in history, scientists have discovered microplastics in the human bloodstream in a landmark study. After testing 22 adults, the Dutch study responsible for the discovery found microplastics in 17 of their subjects's bloodstream. Although the number of subjects may seem small, the discovery is still unprecedented and stands as a disconcerting omen for the relationship between humans and plastic.
"This is really the first evidence of plastic polymers making it into the bloodstream," Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University, who was not involved in the study, told Insider. "What that means is quite uncertain, but it is unsettling news."
Given the amount of plastic we consume as a species, this disturbing revleation was almost inevitable.
Because it's in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, the average American ingests about 50,000 microplastic particles each year and inhales about the same amount, according to a 2019 analysis. Another study, from 2021, estimates that the average person ingests a credit card's worth of plastic each week.
As of now, scientists are still attempting to discover if the microplastics pose a threat to human health.