Microplastics can cause Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Microplastics have become ubiquitous in our environment and there is increasing evidence of their potential harmful effects on our health.

Microplastics and nanoplastics are tiny plastic particles found in the environment. Microplastics range in size from a few micrometers (μm) to 5 millimeters (mm), while nanoplastics are even smaller, with dimensions ranging from a few nanometers (nm) to a few micrometers.

These particles can be the result of the breakdown of larger plastics, such as bottles, bags or packaging, or they can be produced directly in the form of micro- or nanoplastics in personal care products, textiles and other products. Microplastics and nanoplastics can enter the environment through various means, such as direct dumping, wear and degradation of plastic products, or through the release of personal care products, such as facial scrubs or cleaning products.

These small plastics can pose an environmental concern because they are difficult to remove and can accumulate in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, affecting wildlife and potentially reaching the food chain, raising human health concerns.

Micro and nanoplastics accumulate in our body

Last year, scientists discovered that these small particles can enter the bloodstream and potentially build up in our organs over time. The research have now shown that small plastic particles can disrupt the blood-brain barrier, the network of blood vessels and tissue that protects the brain against toxins and pathogens.

This can have serious consequences for our health, especially as these particles continue to accumulate in our body. Microplastics can cause brain inflammation and lead to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

“People are constantly exposed to polymeric materials such as textiles, tires and packaging.
Unfortunately, their decomposition products contaminate our environment and cause widespread micro- and nanoplastic pollution,” wrote scientists working in Austria and Hungary.

"The blood-brain barrier (BBB) ​​is an important biological barrier that protects the brain from harmful substances," they explain.

"We showed that nanoparticles, but not larger particles, reach the brain just two hours after the probe."

Scientists realized this after feeding micro- and nanopolystyrene (MNP) to mice, a type of plastic widely used in commercial applications such as food packaging, and then testing it on animals.

"Using computer models, we found that a certain surface structure (biomolecular halo) is important for invasion," said Oldamur Hollocki, a scientist at the University of Debrecen in Hungary, for the entry of plastic particles into the brain.

His colleague Lukas Kenner, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, added: “In the brain, plastic particles can increase the risk of inflammation, neurological disorders and even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's. Parkinson.

Nanoplastics are smaller than 0,001 mm and can enter the food chain through sources such as food and liquid packaging.

Microplastics in water

The researchers noted that, according to previous studies, people who drink 1,5 to 2 liters of water a day from plastic bottles ingest about 90.000 plastic particles a year. "However, drinking tap water, depending on geographical location, can help reduce this figure to 40.000," says the University of Vienna.

The impact of microplastics that circulate in our body is not fully known. In the meantime, however, we will need to "mitigate the potential harmful effects of microplastics and nanoplastics on humans and the environment," Kenner emphasized.

"Limiting its exposure and use until more research is done on the effects of MNP is extremely important," the scientist said.

With information English en