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Monday, 10 February 2014

The decomposition of plastic waste affects human health

Degradation of plastic in the sea would be bad for human health according to a new study by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).
plastic waste affects human health

When the plastic degrades naturally, it produces polystyrene nanoparticles. The Inserm researchers in view of the increasing production of plastic in the world have analyzed these particles and discovered they alter the properties of cell membranes and thus the activity of certain proteins.

A computer model

To understand the effects of these particles, the researchers created a computer model of cellular membrane.

"This model is certainly incomplete compared to a real membrane, consisting of hundreds of different molecules. But nevertheless it correctly simulates the basic properties of a cell membrane with a leopard skin appearance, made of soft yellow areas and areas black stiffer "describes Luca Monticelli, co-author of this work.


They then examined the effect of the presence of particles of plastic. "Nanoparticles of plastic are very hydrophobic and therefore have a high affinity for lipids: once in the membrane, they are not feeling well and they stay there," says the researcher. They found that "a decrease in the speed of movement of the membrane proteins in a relaxation of the overall structure and stabilization of specific domains called rafts. Known for certain pathologies effects of viral infections such as the flu or AIDS, Alzheimer's disease or prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob."

The polystyrene nanoparticles would be able to modify the properties of membranes and affect the activity of membrane proteins and their functions. Now man is often in contact with these substances.

The sea reserve plastic

In fact, 280 million tons of plastic are produced in the world and unfortunately represent a significant proportion of waste which a significant part is found at sea But after decades of decay, this plastic is transformed into nanoparticles polystyrene, whose health effects are still unknown.

For the authors of this survey, "the findings of this study should challenge the scientific community and mobilize to study the effects on human health of the pollution and degradation of plastic in the sea"

Degradation of plastic in the sea would be bad for human health according to a new study by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).

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