Detection of microplastics in human colectomy specimens

Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim, Sabiqah Tuan Anuar, Alyza A. Azmi, Wan Mohd Afiq Wan Mohd Khalik, Shumpei Lehata, Siti Rabaah Hamzah, Dzulkiflee Ismail, Zheng Feei Ma, Andee Dzulkarnaen, Zaidi Zakaria, Nazri Mustaffa, Sharifah Emilia Tuan Sharif, Yeong Yeh Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

241 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aim: While dietary exposure to microplastics is increasingly recognized, it is unknown if ingested plastics remain within the digestive tract. We aimed to examine human colectomy specimens for microplastics and to report the characteristics as well as polymer composition of the particles. Methods: Colectomy samples were obtained from 11 adults (mean age 45.7, six males) who were residents of Northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. Microplastics were identified following chemical digestion of specimens and subsequent filtration. The samples were then examined for characteristics (abundance, length, shape, and color) and composition of three common polymer types using stereo- and Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) microscopes. Results: Microplastics were detected in all 11 specimens with an average of 331 particles/individual specimen or 28.1 ± 15.4 particles/g tissue. Filaments or fibers accounted for 96.1% of particles, and 73.1% of all filaments were transparent. Out of 40 random filaments from 10 specimens (one had indeterminate spectra patterns), 90% were polycarbonate, 50% were polyamide, and 40% were polypropylene. Conclusion: Our study suggests that microplastics are ubiquitously present in the human colon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-121
Number of pages6
JournalJGH Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • cancer
  • colectomy
  • human
  • microplastic

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