Microplastics turning up in odd places

Microplastics turning up in odd places

Microplastics are trending. They’re seemingly everywhere, most notably in the news. Scientists are finding them almost anywhere they look.

The oceans. The Arctic. The air. In polar bears. In fish. In our bodies.

And now they’ve been confirmed in a place that will get the close attention of at least half of the population — in testicles.

University of New Mexico researchers recently published findings from a study in which they analyzed the testes of dogs and humans, discovering several kinds of plastics.

Could these hitchhikers impact fertility?

Researchers took samples from neutered dogs and human donors who had been autopsied.

The study found a mean total of 329 micrograms of microplastics in the human samples and 122 in the dogs. Surprisingly, the types of plastic found differed between the species.

The human polymers were mostly the type found in plastic bags and bottles. The dogs’ samples revealed more synthetic resin found in plumbing supplies like PVC piping.

In a disquieting finding, scientists noted the sperm count of the dog testes decreased as the level of microplastics increased. Sperm counts could not be measured in the human samples because they came from cadavers.

Even so, the study authors say this finding in dogs is a red flag worth a closer look. Some scientists have noted declining human sperm count, although its significance on fertility is unclear.

Nobody is sure how microplastics end up in testes. One thought is that they were accidentally ingested, fanning out to different parts of the body via fat particles.

As any reformed spendthrift can attest, plastic is better left in the wallet.

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