The plastic pollution of our seas and oceans has affected these ecosystems to the point where some animals already have plastic in their bodies. A new study published this week in sciencedirect, found polymer particles and fibers in the fat and lungs of marine mammals.
Marine mammals consume large amounts of microplastic particles. They do this through dams that have absorbed objects from this material or directly from waste thrown into the sea. A study in these animals suggests that microplastics may leave the digestive tract and settle in the tissues.
“Not only do they ingest plastic and deal with large chunks in their stomachs, they also digest,” Greg Merrill, lead author of the study and fifth-year graduate student at Duke University’s Marine Laboratory, said in a statement. , USA. “Some of its mass is now plastic.”
A group of scientists received samples 32 animals washed ashore or collected between 2000 and 2021., Alaska, California and North Carolina. Total 12 kinds presented in the data. Among them are a bearded seal, a bottlenose dolphin and several gray whales.
68% of all marine mammals analyzed it contained microscopic particles of plastic. Polyethylene, a component of beverage containers, was one of the most common materials found in these animals. As well as polyester fibers used in a textile factory.
Danger to humans from the plastic of marine mammals
For the study, samples were taken from four tissues: in three types of fat and lungs. Plastic was found in all. The particle size in these tissues averaged from 198 microns to 537 microns. To put in perspective A human hair has a diameter of approximately 100 microns.
Merrill explains that plastic parts can also tear and wear down fabrics. “Now that we know that the plastic is in these tissues, we are looking at what the metabolic impact might be,” the researcher added.
There is also a toxic risk to these animals and eventually to humans. “The impact can be direct through consumption”, says in the report. Either because some people feed on this type of mammal, or because they consume the same prey as these animals.
Merrill is preparing the next phase of his research, in which he will use cell lines grown from whale biopsy tissue. The goal is to carry out toxicological tests on plastic particles.
2022 article published in natural communications, It is estimated that blue whales, the largest creatures on Earth, absorb 10 million pieces of microplastic every day. These animals can swallow the equivalent of 43 kg of plastic waste.
Source: Hiper Textual