People breathe in up to 7,000 microplastic particles every day from clothes, toys and furnishings, revealed a research.
The total is 100 times higher than expected – posing a potential health threat that could rank alongside asbestos or tobacco, the Daily Mail reported.
The study led by Portsmouth Hospitals Trust in the UK, used highly sensitive equipment to count tiny particles less than 10 microns in size – just a tenth of the width of a human hair.
Bedding, carpet and soft toys made from synthetic materials, as well as polyester and nylon could be major contributors, they found.
Microplastics were dangerous because they did not break down, Professor Anoop Chauhan, a respiratory specialist with Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, was quoted as saying.
“Having these particles in your body can cause stress and changes in metabolism, it can affect immunity, the ability to fight infections, it can affect your reproductive capacity and potentially it could be carcinogenic – causing cancer,” Chauhan said.
The study was carried out at the home of a British reporter in Beckenham, south-east London. Up to 28 plastic particles were found every minute in children’s bedroom compared with two a minute in the kitchen, the report said.
The team found that when children play with soft toys, the family is likely to each breathe in between 2,000 and 7,000 microplastics a day.
“Things in an occupational setting – asbestos, coal or cigarette smoke or anything you inhale – has dangers and microplastics are a hidden danger in people’s homes,” Chauhan said.
“And this is the first study that highlights the level of these that we breathe in everyday life.”
He said microplastics do not degrade in the body, leaving them to potentially cause inflammation and stress to cells.
“To date, the bulk of research has centered around pollutants outside of the home such as car emissions, but as this initiative proves, it’s essential we widen our focus on the dangers in our homes,” Chauhan added.
Very small microplastics that are less than 10 microns in size, such as those measured in the new study, can float in the air making them harder to count.