Microplastics—the small-to-invisible granular decay from plastic containers and packaging—literally cover the Earth, from the depths of the ocean to atop the Himalayas (“1,000 Tons of Plastic Dust Falls on National Parks Each Year,” 28 Jul 2020).
Researchers have long known that these microscopic bits lodge in sea creatures’ bodies, weakening muscle structures, impairing cognition in crabs, and disrupting fishes’ reproductive systems.
Humans’ bodies also are rife with microplastics, as we reported in “Drinking the Bottle Along With The Water,” (10 Jul 2019). 
Now a study of mice at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology has found that the particles can cross the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s last defense against toxins.
The researchers fed the rodents small amounts of microplastics no bigger than two micrometers in diameter—about 12 thousandths of an inch—for seven days. 
After a week, the particles had agglomerated around the brains’ microglial cells, which clean waste from the central nervous system. 
The granules hampered the microglial cells’ ability to reproduce and hastened their death, the study found.
In an additional lab test dosing human microglial cells with the same plastic bits, the researchers saw changes in the cells’ physical structures. The cells also were impaired in their ability to express genes normally, to field antibodies, and also underwent early death.
TRENDPOST: Pledges by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other soft-drink makers to use recycled plastic in their bottles is a granule in the ocean. More than 90 percent of plastic containers are trashed instead of recycled, eventually leaching microplastics into soils, groundwater, wildlife, and our food.
Research and development of plastics that decompose into nontoxic substances is progressing but still far from commercialization. 
Until that technology matures, the best way to minimize microplastic toxicity is still to avoid direct or indirect contact with plastics as much as possible and recycle the plastic bottles, containers, and packages you can’t avoid.

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