by Joseph Mercola, M.D.
May 25, 2022
Researchers found 39 microplastics in surgical lung
samples from 11 of 13 people. There were 12 types that
would commonly be found in plastic bottles, twine,
clothing and surgical masks
respirator specialist says surgical masks don't meet the
legal definition of a mask but rather are "breathing
barriers." He was emphatic they are shedding microplastics small enough to be inhaled
data analysis of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in
Kansas revealed counties with
mask mandates had higher
mortality rates than those without mask mandates
inhaled or consumed, microplastics can be found in your
bloodstream in particles small enough to cross membrane
barriers. It's also found in an infant's first stool,
suggesting maternal exposure; an animal study found nanopolystryene particles in fetal brain, liver, kidney
and lung tissue 24 hours after maternal exposure
Tiny bits of plastic
about the size of a sesame seed or smaller are everywhere.
headlines often show intact plastic bags, rings and bottles as the
primary threats to the environment - and these are indeed harmful to
marine life and more - but the smaller, more insidious microplastic
bits may even be more harmful.
A study 1 from Great
Britain 2 found microplastics in 11 out of 13 patients' lungs.
Across the world, 299 million tons of plastic were produced in 2013,
much of which ended up in the oceans, threatening wildlife and the
That number jumped to 418
million tons in 2021. 4
In 2018, the U.S. alone
generated 35.7 million tons of plastic and sent 27 million tons to
landfills, which accounted for 18.5% of all municipal solid waste.
Chemicals found in
plastic products are known to act as endocrine disruptors.
These chemicals are
similar in structure to natural sex hormones, and they interfere
with the normal functioning of those hormones in your body.
This poses a particular
problem for children who are still growing and developing.
The price that society will pay for the ubiquitous use and
distribution of plastic particles has yet to be quantified.
suggests that the long-term exposure to endocrine-disrupting
chemicals like phthalates poses a significant danger to health and
The amount of plastic that enters the environment grows each year as
manufacturers continue to produce products in disposable containers
and consumers continue to demand a disposable lifestyle.
At a time
when advocacy groups warn that plastics are falling from the sky
and have become a global tragedy, 9 the COVID-19
'pandemic' has driven
the plastic problem to even greater heights.
Microplastics in 11 Out of 13 Patient's Lungs
Decades of research have shown that people breathe in microparticles
of air pollution as well as consume them in food and water.
A 2021 autopsy study 10
showed microplastics in 13 of the 20 people analyzed and over 20
years ago a 1998 U.S. lung cancer study 11 found plastic and fibers
in 99 of the 114 lung samples that were examined.
According to the Natural History Museum, 12
less than 5 millimeters...
They call microplastics,
"one of the greatest
man-made disasters of our time."
While there are
industrial uses for microplastics, most form when they break away
from larger plastic products in the environment.
Primary microplastics are those produced in small sizes for
industrial use, such as in sandblasters, cosmetics or microfiber
Secondary microplastics result from the breakdown of
larger plastic products caused by exposure to environmental
One team of scientists from
Hull York Medical School sought to
analyze the impact that inhaling microplastics has on human tissue.
Past research has found
synthetic fibers in lung tissue, but researchers wrote there were no
robust studies confirming microplastics in lung tissue.
The current study
analyzed human lung tissue in 13 patients who had undergone lung
They found microplastic contamination in 11 of the 13 patients.
The team found 39 pieces in 11 lung tissue samples.
Laura Sadofsky, senior
lecturer and lead researcher in the study, commented on the
importance of the results: 15
previously been found in human cadaver autopsy samples - this is
the first robust study to show microplastics in lungs from live
It also shows that
they are in the lower parts of the lung. Lung airways are very
narrow so no one thought they could possibly get there, but they
"This data provides an important advance in the field of air
pollution, microplastics and human health.
of types and levels of microplastics we have found can now
inform realistic conditions for laboratory exposure experiments
with the aim of determining health impacts."
Study authors found the
subjects harbored 12 types of microplastics,
"which have many uses
and are commonly found in packaging, bottles, clothing,
rope/twine, and many manufacturing processes.
There were also
considerably higher levels of microplastics in male patients
compared to females." 16
finding was that a higher number of microplastics were found in the
lower portions of the lung.
The most abundant types
of microplastics were polypropylene (PP) and
polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
This finding points to
the recent ubiquitous use of blue surgical masks during the
as PP is the most commonly used plastic component in those masks.
Expert Says COVID
Face Covers Are Not Masks
A study 18 published in 2021 looked at the risks of wearing blue
surgical face masks and inhaling microplastics.
The researchers found
that reusing masks could increase the risk of inhaling microplastic
particles and that N95 respirators had the lowest number of
microplastics released when compared to not wearing a mask.
fashion, and activated carbon masks wearing pose higher
fiber-like microplastic inhalation risk…", 19
...and yet, according to
Chris Schaefer, a respirator specialist and training expert,
masks used by millions of people throughout the world are not
really masks at all. 20
Schaefer calls these "breathing barriers" as they "don't meet the
legal definition" of a mask.
He was emphatic that the
surgical masks used by consumers throughout Canada, the U.S. and the
world are shedding microplastics small enough to be inhaled. 21
"A [proper] mask has
engineered breathing openings in front of mouth and nose to
ensure easy and effortless breathing. A breathing barrier is
closed both over mouth and nose.
And by doing that, it
captures carbon dioxide that you exhale, forces you to re-inhale
it, causing a reduction in your inhaled oxygen levels and causes
excessive carbon dioxide.
So, they're not safe
He encourages people to
cut one open and look at the loose fibers that are easily dislodged
within the product. 22
"The heat and
moisture that it captures will cause the degradation of those
fibers to break down smaller.
are inhaling [microplastic particles]. I've written very
extensively on the hazards of these breathing barriers the last
two years, I've spoken to scientists [and other] people for the
last two years about people inhaling the fibres.
"If you get the sensation that you've gotten a little bit of cat
hair, or any type of irritation in the back of your throat after
That means you're
inhaling the fibres."
He went on to note that
anyone exposed to these types of fibers in an occupational setting
would be required to wear protection.
Instead, people are using
products that increase the risk of inhaling fibers that,
"break down very
small and, well, what that's going to do to people in the in the
form of lung function - as well as toxicity overload in their
body - I guess we'll know in a few years." 23
Also Increase the Death Rate From COVID-19
German physician, Dr. Zacharias Fögen, published a study
the peer-reviewed journal Medicine, which analyzed data across
counties in Kansas, comparing areas where there was a mask mandate
against counties without a mandate.
He found that mandatory masking increased the death rate by 85%.
The mortality rate
remained 52% higher in counties that mandated masking even when the
analysis accounted for confounding factors.
Fögen writes that further
analysis of the data showed that 95% of the effect,
"can only be
attributed to COVID-19, so it is not CO2, bacteria or fungi
under the mask." 25
He has named this the
Foegen Effect which refers to the reinhalation of viral particles
trapped in droplets and deposited on the mask, which worsens
He writes: 26
"The most important
finding from this study is that contrary to the accepted thought
that fewer people are dying because infection rates are reduced
by masks, this was not the case.
Results from this
study strongly suggest that mask mandates actually caused about
1.5 times the number of deaths or ~50% more deaths compared to
no mask mandates.
"The mask mandates themselves have increased the CFR (case
fatality rate) by 1.85 / 1.58 or by 85% / 58% in counties with
It was also found that almost all of these
additional deaths were attributed solely to COVID-19.
This study revealed
that wearing face masks might impose a great risk on individuals,
which would not be mitigated by a reduction in the infection
"The use of face masks, therefore, might be unfit, if not
contraindicated, as an epidemiologic intervention against
Fögen notes two other
large studies that found similar results with case fatality rates.
The first was published
in the journal Cureus 27 and found no association between case
numbers and mask compliance in Europe but a positive association
with death and mask compliance.
The second study 28 was published in PLOS|One, which demonstrated
there was an association between negative COVID outcomes and mask
mandates across 847,000 people in 69 countries.
The researchers estimated
that ending the mask mandates could reduce new cases with no effect
on hospitalization and death.
Trigger Cell Damage and Death
Past research has highlighted the impact microplastics have on the
environment, wildlife and human health.
However, many studies
have not drawn an association between microplastic consumption or
inhalation and disease. Instead, they identify research gaps and
recommend further study. 29
A paper 30 published in April 2022 has suggested why this data has
The lab data was the first to find that microplastics damaged human cells at levels that are relevant to the
number of particles humans ingest or inhale.
The study was a meta-regression analysis of the toxicological impact
on human cells across 17 studies that compared the level of
microplastics that cause cell damage.
The researchers found
that it was the irregularly shaped microplastics that cause cell
damage and not the spherical microplastics that are normally used in
This suggests that past lab data using spherical microplastics may
not fully represent the damage that microplastics cause to human
Evangelos Danopoulos from Hull York Medical School in the
U.K., who led the study, commented on why research is increasing:
"It is exploding and
for good reason. We are exposed to these particles every day:
we're eating them, we're inhaling them. And we don't really know
how they react with our bodies once they are in." 31
Where Does Plastic Pollution Go in Your
Researchers have found that tiny microplastics are not only
deposited in your lungs and gut but can also be found floating in
Researchers from The
Netherlands analyzed samples 32 from 22 healthy volunteers and found
plastic particles in 77% of the samples.
These particles were 700
nanometers or greater in dimension, which is a size that can be
absorbed across membranes.
Some samples contained up to three different types of plastic...
The study author told The
"Our study is the
first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood - it's a breakthrough result. But we have to extend the research
and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed,
The researchers wrote
that where these plastic particles end up in the body also requires
They stated that it's
"scientifically plausible" that the plastic particles are being
transported by the bloodstream to organs, based, for instance, on
data showing that 50, 80 and 240 nm polystyrene beads and microsized
polypropylene can permeate the human placenta. 34
After these microplastics cross the placental barrier, they end up
in a newborn's first feces.
This means they migrate
from the infant's blood to the gut. A pilot study 35 published in
2021 looked at the magnitude of human exposure to microplastics and
found that the microplastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was
found in meconium samples, which is a baby's first stool.
The amount of PET in infant stool was 10 times higher than found in
adult samples, which suggested that babies have plastic in their
system that is absorbed from their mother.
How this will affect the
future of human health is still being studied...
An animal study found
that just 24 hours after maternal inhalation exposure,
nanopolystyrene particles could be detected in the placenta and
fetal brain, lungs, liver, heart and kidney. 36
It appears that inhaling or consuming microplastics allows micro
particles access to your bloodstream and then to your vital organs.
While researchers have
demonstrated that the irregularly shaped microplastics found in the
environment cause cell damage and death, the long-term effects on
disease have not been identified.
Yet, you may be sure that
cell damage and death do not occur without consequences.
1, 14 Science
of the Total Environment, 2022;831(2)
2, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23 Western
Standard, April 17, 2022
Care, November 2019
World in Data, Plastic Pollution
Protection Agency, Plastics: Material Specific Data, Overview
Society, December 5, 2020
American, June 11, 2020
for Biological Diversity, Ocean Plastics Pollution
of Hazardous Materials, 2021;416(124126)
Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 1998;7(5)
History Museum, January 21, 2020
15, 16 Hull
York Medical School, April 6, 2022
18, 19 Journal
of Hazardous Materials, 2021;411
Daily Skeptic, May 2, 2022
Health, and the Environment, 2018;5:375
of Hazardous Materials, 2021; 127861
Guardian, December 8, 2021
International 2022; doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107199 3.2
Guardian March 24, 2022
International, 2022; doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107199 3.3
Plastic's biological fate?
Letters & Technology Letters, 2021; doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.10c00559
and Fibre Toxicology, 2020;17(55)