In this new study, researchers analysed stool samples from "eight healthy volunteers from eight different countries - Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria".
"I believe that trying to reduce plastic usage and plastic-packed food might be beneficial for nature and for us", Schwabl said.
The findings are based on analysis of the stools of the eight volunteers, from Britain, Austria, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Russian Federation. Each one kept a diary of the food and drink they consumed for a week. PP (polypropylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was most frequently found in the samples. "Ukraine", of microplastics found even in table salt.
Philipp Schwable, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna, who led the study explained that all participants of the study tested positive for plastics in their stool.
Schwabl said it seemed that the rise in plastic pollution was an nearly inevitable bi-product of the way society operates, adding: "It is likely that the amount of plastic contamination may rise further if mankind does not change the current situation". The smallest particles, the microplastics, range from 10 nanometers - so tiny they are invisible to the human eye - up to to 5 millimeters in diameter.
There's been evidence microplastics have been infiltrating our bodies for some years. Microplastic may impact human health via the GI tract where it could affect the tolerance and immune response of the gut.
"Colon cancer is increasing in young people, and we think that either dietary or environmental components are a factor", he says.
The scientists monitored the subjects according to what they ate on the week before the research, by collecting stool samples.
Microplastics end up in the human diet after washing into waterways and being absorbed by things that end up on our dinner plates - especially seafood. While programmes like Blue Planet have vividly shown the devastating impact of plastic on wildlife, we don't yet know what effect it has on human health.' Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK's senior oceans campaigner, added: 'This is yet another shocking development that shows just how dramatically plastic is contaminating every aspect of our lives. In all samples experts have found micro-plastic particles with a size from 50 to 500 micrometers.
An average of 20 microplastic particles were present in every 10 grams of feces, but Inverse's Emma Betuel notes that overall quantities were all over the map, with different samples including between 18 and 172 particles per 10 grams. What's worrying, according to the researchers, is that the health effects of microplastics on people are unknown. Six of them had eaten fish.
"In our study, most participants drank liquids from plastic bottles, but also fish and seafood ingestion was common", Schwabl noted. They are cosmopolitan in nature and have been even discovered in deep-sea sediments over three miles underneath the ocean surface, in Arctic sea ice, and on Swiss mountains.
An worldwide team of researchers estimated in 2014 that there were around five trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean - weighing 250,000 tons.