According tomedia reports, there have been concerns that plastic particles eaten by fish may be passed on to consumers of seafood consumed by humans. However, according to a new study, this may not be the case with sea bass, or it may not be the case for other fish. Currently, microplastic pollution exists in freshwater and marine waterways around the world and enters the environment in the form of tiny plastic particles from decomposed waste, aging tires, synthetic fabrics and personal care products including shampoos and cosmetics.
Unfortunately, fish do eat these particles, which pass through their digestive systems and even often enter their bloodstream. As a result, it has been speculated that when people eat the meat of these fish, microplastics are also ingested by them.
To assess the likelihood of this happening, a recent study by the Helmholtz Polar and Ocean Research Centre at the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany conducted a study. Led by Dr. Matthew Slater, the scientists conducted a 16-week experiment in the lab on a group of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) that fed the fish fish pills containing microplastic powder.
Although the pills themselves contain fishmeal, wheat bran, vitamins and fish oil, the powder also contains yellow fluorescent plastic particles with widths of 1 to 5 microns – the smallest size category for microplastic contamination. It is estimated that about 163 million of these particles will be consumed per fish over a 16-week period.
The researchers then hollowed out the animal’s internal organs and sliced it, then heated it in caustic potassium to dissolve the muscle tissue into a liquid. The liquid then passes through a filter that captures any plastic particles that may exist. Fluorescence microscopes are used to count these particles.
As a result, the researchers found only one or two particles per 5 grams of fish. These particles may also be present in the blood that remains in the fish slices, rather than the actual muscle tissue. What’s more, although the fish were exposed to much higher concentrations of microplastics than they came into contact with in the ocean, they still grow well and are reported to be very healthy.
“I believe that the results of the sea herring study provide some indication of how other marine finfish respond to microplastic intake, but this has not yet been tested,” Dr Slater told the media. However, the wide variety of microplastics in the marine environment is incredible. Our results provide some signs of absorption in the wider marine environment, but there are many other types to be tested. “
In addition, in the high seas, plastic particles may absorb pollutants that enter fish, although they do not.
The study has been published in Marine Pollution Bulletin.