According to a new study, sea creatures can absorb billions of tiny plastics found in the water, known as ocean nanoplastics, within a few hours. That fact is damaging not only the ocean ecosystems but also the animals and plants living in these environments. For example, scallops present billions of plastic nanoparticles in their vital organs, as the researchers revealed.
In previous studies, the scientists have estimated the harmful effects of the so-called nanoplastics, tiny plastic nanoparticles, for the ocean ecosystems. The plastics pollution, caused by the reckless disposal of plastic recipients, is affecting the sea creatures to a level we’ve never seen before, according to the new study.
Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the UK wanted to assess how bad are the ocean nanoplastics for the sea creatures. In the first phase, they’ve generated plastic nanoparticles in the lab, and then they built up ecosystems to reproduce the sea water and concentration of plastics in the oceans.
Sea Creatures Can Absorb Billions Of Ocean Nanoplastics Within A Few Hours
In just a few hours, billion of ocean nanoplastics invaded the scallops’ vital organs, including intestines, kidneys, and gills. After the scientists placed the scallops in jars with clean water, the mollusks managed to expel all the plastic nanoparticles but in six weeks.
“We only exposed the scallops to nanoparticles for a few hours and, despite them being transferred to clean conditions, traces were still present several weeks later. Understanding the dynamics of nanoparticle uptake and release, as well as their distribution in body tissues, is essential if we are to understand any potential effects on organisms,” said Professor Richard Thompson, the study’s co-author, and a scientist at Plymouth.
In other studies, scientists estimated that rivers flowing into the oceans are delivering about 500,000 nanoplastics per square meter which is massive and endangers the sea creatures. The researchers assessed that there are five trillion plastic particles in the world’s oceans.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.