Huge islands of plastics have been found in several places in the world’s oceans. Other deposits have been found in fish which swim in the deepest parts of the same waters. Studies have found that microplastics are in the human food chain. Perhaps most disturbing among the recent research of where plastic is found is one which shows they have been discovered in blood and urine samples of young children and teenagers.
The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published results of a new study about the presence of some of the most dangerous plastics to humans in children’s bodies. The study was conducted by scientists at the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute. Robert Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1905. The study looked at 2,500 young people ages 3 to 17 over the period from 2014 to 2017. Plastic by-products were found in 97% to 100% of the test cases. Marike Kolossa-Gehring, one of the study’s authors, told the magazine, “Our study clearly shows that plastic ingredients, which are rising in production, are also showing up more and more in the body. It is really worrying that the youngest children are most affected as the most sensitive group.” Scientists looked for the presence of 15 plastics in the children and found 11.
Researchers were particularly concerned about the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is particularly toxic to humans. It is used in household items like non-stick cookware, German public broadcaster ARD reported that children from poor families were more affected than those from higher-income families. Common Dreams, a non-profit news center quoted one of the researchers, “It can not be that every fourth child between the ages of three and five is so heavily burdened with chemicals that long-term damage cannot be reliably ruled out.”
Among the most disturbing dangers is that these substances can end up in the reproductive system and can poison the liver. A global ban on the use of perfluorooctanoic is supposed to begin next year. However, there is some debate about whether several industries may continue to use it. Clearly, based on the study, it is too late to keep the substance out of the bodies of many children.
For more what countries spend on public health, 24/7 Wall St. has posted a special report on what countries spend on health care. The country at the top of the list has among the shortest lifespans for its residents.