Since the early 1950s, humans have produced more than 8 billion tons of plastic, about 60 percent of which have not been recycled, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, according tomedia. While it is difficult for researchers to track the whereabouts of the waste, their efforts are continuing to find evidence of its harmful effects on nature.
Recently, a team of scientists from the UK found the first evidence to show plastic waste moving up the food chain in rivers.
The team, made up of scientists from Cardiff And the University of Exeter, hopes to find out what could affect wildlife in south Wales. To do this, the researchers studied the excrement of the river. Hewu is a river bird that feeds on insects and small fish and produces regular feces or ruminant particles that are not digested.
Of the 166 drop and particle samples studied, the team found that about half of the samples contained microplastic fragments. Microplastics are smaller than 5 mm of plastic fragments, making it difficult to track them in the environment.
Dr David Santillo, of the University of Exeter, said: “Our analysis shows that the river in the study absorbs about 200 plastic particles a day from the insects they eat. More than 75 per cent of the debris we found was less than 0.5 mm, but some were several millimeters long. We have long known that plastic particles, including polyester, polypropylene and nylon, pollute Britain’s rivers. But our forensic methods now reveal how these substances are widespreadly contaminating freshwater food networks. It remains to be seen how chemicals and pollutants in these plastics affect hewu and its young birds. “
The researchers point out that the river swashes accidentally fed the nesting chicks to the insects they took home for dinner. The team said this was the first evidence that microplastics flowed from insects in rivers to predators, echoing a 2018 study that analyzed seal droppings, which found evidence that plastic moved upward along the ocean food chain.
The study was published in Global Change Biology.