Substances that are familiar to us are highly toxic and threaten our lives.

A team of scientists has discovered that plastics used to make furniture, electronics, and home insulation contain toxic chemicals that are easily absorbed by human skin.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have shown that toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of laptops, child seats and smartphones can easily pass through human skin and into the bloodstream.

These substances can interfere with thyroid function, cognitive development, athletic performance, ovarian function, and may also increase your risk of cancer.

Scientists used simulated skin 3D printed from human skin cells to test how the commonly used flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are absorbed into the skin.

They moisturized their skin and exposed it to two types of microplastics over a 24-hour period. Research has shown that skin moisture affects how these chemicals are absorbed.

The research team found that about 8% of the PBDEs found in microplastics are absorbed into the skin.

“Microplastic particles are ubiquitous in the environment, but we still know little about the health problems they can cause,” said Dr Ofokloe Abafi, lead author of the study. “Our research shows that they can act as ‘carriers’ for harmful chemicals, reaching the bloodstream through the skin.

In fact, a lot of concern about PBDEs arose in the early 2000s when studies showed that breast milk contained harmful substances.

A study conducted in 2018 found chemicals in fish in the US and UK. A study published earlier this month also found that people with high levels of PBDEs in their blood had a higher risk of dying from cancer.

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