Microplastics found in testicles

Researchers from the University of New Mexico have found microplastics in human and canine testicles for the first time. The results were published in the journal Toxicological Sciences. A total of 23 testes from deceased men and 47 from castrated dogs were examined. All of them were found to contain plastic particles.

Effects on fertility

The researchers also found a negative correlation between the amount of plastic in the canine testicles and their sperm count. More research is needed, however, to determine if the current levels of microplastics affect male fertility. There is no evidence for this yet, explains MOMENTUM’s Juliette Legler in Dutch newspaper Trouw. We do know that plastics can contain chemicals that may be harmful but the amount that leaks out is very small. So, while harmful effects cannot be ruled out, they are still not clear.

Research challenges

The potential risks of microplastics for human health are still unclear. Some studies show harmful effects of microplastics, but just as many contradict these, says MOMENTUM researcher Remco Westerink in Trouw. He thinks it’s plausible that plastic is harmful for the body but the effects still need to be determined. Adding to the complexity of microplastics research is the fact that measuring the plastic particles is very hard. Legler explains that microplastics are present in the air and in lab equipment and may be introduced during measurements. Researchers may then be measuring plastic that was never present in the body.