The battle underway for some time against microplastics that suffocate the seas, damage the health of animals, the environment and human beings is now tinged with an even darker shadow with the results of a all-Italian scientific research. It was in fact tested for the first time in the world presence of microplastics in the human placenta from a study byFatebenefratelli-Isola Tiberina Hospital in Rome he was born in Marche Polytechnic. Published on scientific journal Environment International and previously approved by ethics committeethe research analyzed the placentas of six healthy women, aged between 18 and 40, with normal pregnancies, who gave their consent.
“Thus the immune system is disturbed”
The mothers, informed of the outcome of the analysis, which began last year, “were shocked, like ourselves”, reported Antonio Ragusa, first author of the study and director of the UOC of obstetrics and gynecology of the Fatebenefratelli. On the same day, the proposal contained in the final opinion of Echa, the European Chemicals Agency, to trigger an absolute ban on the placing on the market of products with added microplastics on the market from 2028 Ragusa explains the seriousness and risks of the presence of inorganic particles even in the fetuses: «The presence of plastic in the body disturbs the immune system which recognizes as “self” (itself) even what is not organic. It’s like having a cyborg child: no longer made only of human cells, but a mixture of biological and inorganic entities». An impressive consideration that aggravates the discussion on the relationship between human beings and nature up to a hitherto unthinkable level. The chief physician of the Fatebenefratelli clarifies that research on this front, after this first dramatic result, needs to be deepened as the effects that these particles can produce inside the human organism are not yet known. «The health risks of children who already have microplastics inside them at birth are not yet known.
Plastic alters fat metabolism
But we already know from other international scientific studies that plastic, for example, alters fat metabolism. We believe it probable that in the presence of microplastic fragments within the body, the response of the body, of the immune system, may change, be different from the norm”. During the study, conducted through Raman microspectroscopy, a technology supplied to the Marche Polytechnic, the researchers identified 12 fragments of artificial material in the placentas, particles between 5 and 10 microns, i.e. as large as a red blood cell or a bacterium, that easily permeate cells. Of the 12 fragments, 3 were clearly identified as polypropylene (material with which plastic bottles and caps are made, for example) and 9 of painted synthetic material.
Fragments that can derive from cosmetics, nail polish, toothpaste, chalk, creams, adhesives
Fragments that can derive from cosmetics, nail polish, toothpaste, chalk, creams, adhesives. Five particles were found in the part of the placenta attached to the fetus and which is an integral part of the fetus, four in the part attached to the maternal uterus and three inside the membranes that surround the fetus. On how microplastics enter the human body, Ragusa explains that the prevailing route is not yet known: «The first concerns the respiratory system and therefore the blood circuit. The second through food, via the intestine. To give just one example – he says – just think of the plastic trays in which food is packaged in supermarkets ». In light of this study, Echa’s proposal on the application of the ban on intentionally added microplastics in products (which should concern cosmetics, cleaning and laundry products, fertilisers, plant protection products and seed coatings) is even more crucial. should prevent 500,000 tonnes of microplastics from ending up in the environment over the next 20 years. As a doctor and researcher, Ragusa launches his appeal: «I think we have to stop, we are destroying the planet. If we don’t take greener measures, it will be ruination for our children and grandchildren.’