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Plastics in dermatology

In everyday medical practice, patient care leads to the accumulation of large quantities of plastic waste, from hypodermic needles to elaborate surgical packs, gloves, masks and laboratory equipment. In addition, routine activities in dermatology practices or clinics involve numerous plastic-packaged samples for care products from a wide variety of sources, where these play an important part in patient care.


There are over 200 different types of solid plastic of varying composition. Plastic is omnipresent and has been accumulating in the oceans for decades via rivers, wastewater and rainwater. Current estimates of microplastics on the ocean floor are as high as 14 million tonnes.

Most of these substances are not biodegradable at all or are not readily biodegradable, and, depending on their size, cannot yet be filtered out of wastewater at sewage treatment plants in urban areas. These substances land on our plates again via the food chain.


Essentially, different classifications are assigned to various plastics:


  • Macroplastics in the form of packaging material e.g. tubes, bottles and dishes.


  • Microplastics as solid synthetic compounds of differing compositions, up to a maximum diameter of 5 mm. These accumulate as primary microplastics in the formulations of topical preparations, for example as solids such as abrasive particles, pastes and powders. Also in this category are the more frequent liquid polymers that may be present as emulsifying agents and preservatives in topical preparations, for example. Secondary microplastics, by contrast, are generated through abrasive and decomposition processes by sun and wind.


For a few years now, there has been mounting evidence that some of these substances have harmful effects. These include allergens such as acrylates, tumour-inducing parabens, hormonally-active agents such as endocrine disruptors and other ingredients in sunscreens, which have been proven to lead to the death of coral reefs worldwide.


One study from San Francisco published in March 2021 was able to detect 109 industrial chemicals in the blood of newborns and their mothers using mass spectrometry. This clearly showed that chemical nanoparticles can cross the placental barrier. 55 substances were detected in human blood for the first time. 28 substances could be clearly attributed to the cosmetics sector. For 42 chemical compounds, the sources and applications could not be determined.


This gives cause for serious concern. There is a lack of studies examining which interactions may emerge from the large number of chemical substances in the environment, whether they prove to be toxic and to what extent these can influence the embryogenesis of living organisms.

© Dr. med. Dipl. Biol. Susanne Saha 03/2021






  • Umsicht Studie, Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology, 2018

Beitrag - Plastik in der Dermatologie_Video.png

Video: Mikroplastik: Die unsichtbare Gefahr

Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von MDR Wissen (2018)

Eine im März 2021 erschienene Studie aus San Francisco konnte mittels Massenspektrometrie 109 Industrie-Chemikalien im Blut von Neugeborenen und ihrer Mütter nachweisen. Damit wurde klar gezeigt, dass chemische Nanopartikel die Plazentaschranke passieren können. 55 Stoffe wurden zum ersten Mal im menschlichen Blut nachgewiesen. 28 Stoffe waren eindeutig dem kosmetischen Sektor zuzuordnen. Für 42 chemische Verbindungen konnten die Quellen und Anwendungsbereiche nicht ermittelt werden.



Dies gibt Anlass zu höchster Besorgnis. Es fehlen Studien, die überprüfen, welche Interaktionen durch die Vielzahl der chemischen Stoffe in der Umwelt entstehen können, ob sich diese als toxisch erweisen und inwieweit sie Einfluss auf die Embryogenese von Lebewesen nehmen können.

© Dr. med. Dipl. Biol. Susanne Saha 03/2021







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