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Microplastics are ubiquitous in our daily lives: They can be found everywhere, including in cosmetics, table salt, seafood and recently, human arteries.

Now, scientists found that those microscopic plastic particles have seeped all the way down into sediment layers dating back to the 18th century, Futurism reported.

European researchers recently studied sediments in three Latvian lakes to test if the presence of microplastics in geological layers could help determine the start of the Anthropocene Epoch.

The Anthropocene Epoch is a proposed term used to describe a recent geological period in Earth’s history when human activity began to greatly affect the planet’s climate and environment, according to National Geographic.

Many researchers proposed that the epoch began in 1950 and some have suggested using microplastics in rock layers as a chronological marker for the Anthropocene.

But the new analysis showed that microplastics are not a reliable indicator: The research team found that the particles had entered deep into the layers, including one from 1733.

“We conclude that interpretation of microplastics distribution in the studied sediment profiles is ambiguous and does not strictly indicate the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch,” they wrote.

The findings further show a worrying trend about the proliferation of microplastics, while also underscoring one of the biggest challenges humanity will face in removing them from the environment.

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