New Study Shows Microplastics Present in Human Testicles

Microplastics Present in Human Testicles
Microplastics Present in Human Testicles. Credit | Getty images

United States: Scientists are concerned about the possible effects of microplastics that are found in the human reproductive system after discovering large amounts of the particles in both human and canine testicles.

Environmental Threat

When bigger man-made plastic products, like carrier bags, are exposed to UV radiation from the sun, they break down and release microscopic fragments of garbage known as microplastics. They may also be purposefully made as a component of a manufactured good, or they may result from normal wear and tear on synthetic materials like tires or apparel. As of right now, microplastics have been discovered to be contaminating an enormous variety of natural settings, from the icy arctic regions to the summit of Mount Everest and the Mariana Trench’s lowest points.

Ubiquitous Contamination

They cause subtle yet pernicious disruptions to the natural ecology wherever they go. Even worse, it has been shown that microplastics are contaminating human bodies, including the liver, kidneys, heart, and placenta, after being inhaled through the air or ingested in trace amounts through food and drink.

Study Findings

Professor Xiaozhong “John” Yu of the University of New Mexico, who oversaw the recent investigation that looked at the pollutant’s presence in both human and canine reproductive organs, stated, “We don’t want to scare people.” “We aim to raise awareness about the abundance of microplastics and share the facts in a scientific manner. We have the power to alter our lifestyles, avoid certain situations, and alter our behavior.

In a recent study that was published in the journal Toxological Sciences, professor Yu and his associates examined 23 human testes that were anonymously acquired from donors via the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator as well as 47 canine testicles from neutered animals.

Testing Method

Initially, chemicals were applied to each testicle, dissolving the fat and protein within the organ. The microplastics contaminating the organs were then separated from the residual material using a centrifuge. After that, the microplastics were heated to 600 degrees Celsius while being monitored by a mass spectrometer, which dissected the synthetic pellet’s constituent gases.

Professor Yu said, “At first, I wasn’t sure if microplastics could enter the reproductive system.” “I was shocked to learn the dog results at first. When I saw the human results, I was even more taken aback.

Every testicle that was analyzed for the study turned out to have a sizable amount of microplastics in it. Particularly, the pollutant was present in significant concentrations in the human testicles (329.44 micrograms), three times more than the average microplastic content of canine testicles (122.63 micrograms). The reproductive organs included a total of twelve distinct types of microplastics, the most prevalent of which was the polymer polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bottles.

Potential Impact:

The canine testicles allowed the researchers to count the sperm, but because the human samples had been chemically preserved, they were unable to do the same for them. A reduced sperm count was observed in rats whose organs contained more of the microplastic PVC; however, polyethylene did not appear to have the same effect.

Dogs are more like humans than rats and other animals, according to Yu. “Their spermatogenesis and concentration are more similar to humans in terms of physical characteristics.” He continued, “Canine sperm counts also appear to be declining.” “We think that environmental factors that are common to both humans and dogs are contributing to their decline.”

In addition, Professor Yu pointed out that the average age of the human donors was approximately 35 years old, which explained the impacts of only a few decades’ worth of microplastic buildup. Because microplastics are more common today, there’s a “concerning” chance that the pollution will have a bigger effect on younger generations.


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