Plastics from Bags and Bottles Found in Every Human Placenta, New Scientific Study Reveals

The findings raise concerns about risks to fetal development, as studies emerge linking nanoplastics to heart disease and death

<p>Getty</p> Stock photo of microplastics and nanoplastics


Stock photo of microplastics and nanoplastics
  • Scientists found microplastics in every single sample of placenta tissue examined in a recent study

  • The type of plastic used in making bags and bottles was the most common type found in the samples studied

  • The findings come on the heels of another study that links microplastics with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes

Scientists found microplastics in every single human placenta they tested in a recent study — sounding the alarm about how the plastic impacts developing fetuses.

“If we’re seeing effects on placentas, then all mammalian life on this planet could be impacted. That’s not good,” Dr. Matthew Campen, Regents’ Professor in the University of New Mexico Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who led the study, said in a release from the university.

For his research, Campen’s team examined 62 donated placentas, and found microplastics in every single sample.

Polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bags and bottles, was the most common plastic, making up 54% of the microplastics, the university said.

<p>Getty</p> Stock photo of a newborn


Stock photo of a newborn

The report comes on the heels of a new study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, that has linked nanoplastics with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

“Patients in whom [microplastics and nanoplastics] were detected within the atheroma [a fatty substance in the artery walls] were at higher risk for a primary end-point event than those in whom these substances were not detected,” the study said, concluding that those with plastic tissue in their heart were at a “​​higher risk of a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke, or death.”

Related: Forever Chemicals Found in Popular Supermarket Foods — Including Brands Like Annie's Organic and Del Monte

As the National Library of Medicine explains, “Microplastics (MPs) are plastic particles with a diameter less than 5 mm, while nanoplastics (NPs) range in diameter from 1 to 100 or 1000 nm [nanometer].”

To put that size in perspective, there are 10 million nanometers in a centimeter.

“There currently is no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of nano- and microplastic particles. Therefore, media reports based on assumptions and conjecture do nothing more than unnecessarily scare the public,” said a spokesperson for the International Bottled Water Association, an industry association, told CNN.

<p>Getty</p> Stock photo of plastics washed up on the beach


Stock photo of plastics washed up on the beach

In January, a group of scientists said they were going to stop drinking bottled water after their research found that 1 liter contains a quarter of a million pieces of places.

Last August, microplastics were discovered in human heart tissue. And it was discovered that humans are breathing in the equivalent of a credit card-sized amount of microplastics per week, according to a June 2023 study that was reported in U.S. News and World Report.

Related: 26 Million People Across the U.S. Have Harmful 'Forever Chemicals' in Their Drinking Water

As Camden, who led the placenta study said in the university's statement, “It’s only getting worse, and the trajectory is it will double every 10 to 15 years. So, even if we were to stop it today, in 2050 there will be three times as much plastic in the background as there is now. And we’re not going to stop it today.”

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