A new study has detected traces of plastic in the feces of people throughout Europe and Asia.
According to Dr. Philipp Schwabl, researcher at the Medical University of Vienna, plastic particles were discovered in the stool of the study’s 8 participants.
The volunteers, hailing from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the UK, and Austria, were told to keep track of their diet for one week in order to determine roughly how much plastic they were exposed to.
An average of 20 particles, referred to as microplastics, were found in every 3.5 ounces of stool.
Over 95 percent of the particles came from plastics utilized in the packaging and storage of food products.
As noted by Web MD, the plastics “included polypropylene used in bottle caps, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in drink bottles, polystyrene found in plastic utensils and cups, and polyethylene used in plastic bags and storage containers.”
Schwabl, who described the findings as “astonishing,” stated that despite plastic’s many important uses, humans should attempt to reduce its reliance on the material.
“I believe that trying to reduce plastic usage and plastic-packed food might be beneficial for nature and for us,” Schwabl said. “Certainly, plastic is a very useful material and has a lot of clever applications. But maybe we should try to rethink about the necessity of abundant plastic use, and search for and support ecological and sustainable alternatives.”
Scientists say it is still too early to accurately determine what effect the consumption of microplastics will have on human health.
The study comes just days after a report from the National Geographic stated that microplastics can also be found in 90 percent of table salt.