New plastic threat to marine life

Are marine animals absorbing tiny plastic shards in the water?

Author: Pat
3rd February 2012
 

Tiny fibres of plastic are entering the food chain and threatening marine life.

A new study has found that so-called ‘microplastic’ fibres are shed by clothes during washing. These are then washed into the sewerage system and find their way into outfalls near urban areas.

And not surprisingly, these tiny plastic fibres are ending up in the stomachs of marine animals.

Microplastic fibres are described as less than 1mm across, so all kinds of small fish and shellfish are consuming them, where over time it builds up in the animal’s cells.

The concentration of microplastic fibres in the sea appeared to be greatest near to urban population centres, so the research team focused their efforts there.

US-based National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis concluded that up to 1,900 microplastic fibres are shed by a single garment during each wash.

Samples were taken from 18 beaches worldwide including Australia, the UK, India and Singapore.

This depressing study suggests the threat from plastic oceans could be much smaller – yet much bigger at the same time – than previously thought.

 
 
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