Featured Image Credit:Alain Bachellier, Flickr
By Emily Persico
Plastic fills our grocery stores, clothes our bodies, and adorns our walls in paint. But, after all is said and done, plastic ends up in our environment, polluting our oceans with an estimated 93 to 236K metric tons floating on the surface, a prodigious amount that represents but 1 percent of total ocean plastic waste. Moreover, because we’re all connected, this plastic is slowly making its way into our diet.
In a recent study of seal poo, scientists have uncovered – you guessed it – more plastic.
“Our finding that microplastics can be passed from fish to marine top predators is something we’ve long thought was the case,” said Sarah Nelms, a lead author in the study. Nelms colleague at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Dr. Pennie Lindeque, furthers her statement.
“[It] demonstrates how microplastics can be transferred from prey to predator and therefore passed up through the food chain,” says Lindeque.
Who’s the biggest predator of them all? We are (Well, maybe not the biggest, but the top. The ocean certainly has bigger)! Another group of scientists analyzed fish at markets in California and Indonesia and found that more than a quarter of all fish guts contain plastic.
A UN report called Frontiers sums this problem up when it reads, “The presence of microplastic in foodstuffs could potentially increase direct exposure of plastic-associated chemicals to humans and may present an attributable risk to human health.”
The problem of microplastics is a growing one. From 2004 to 2014, global plastic production grew by 38 percent, starting off in or surrounding every product we purchase and ending up in our oceans and bodies.