Excessive usage of plastic has not only flooded the land but also the seas and oceans. Consequently, life in these water bodies got affected due to the presence of plastic. Every year, several million tons of plastic are released into the sea.
The heaps of plastic can be seen at several locations in these water bodies. However, the less visible form of plastic, the microplastic is more prevalent in water. Microplastics are extremely small, almost like a sesame seed. These tiny bits are nearly 5 mm in length. The larger water bodies also consist of nano plastics which are even smaller than the microplastic.
A recent study analyzed the presence of plastic in seafood to determine the prevalence of microplastics in the marine environment. The researchers obtained seafood from the seafood market in Australia. The researchers from QUEX Institute conducted this study.
The study was published recently in Environmental Science and Technology.
The researchers tested various samples from the commercial seafood market. They found traces of microplastics in all of them. Francisca Ribeiro, the lead author said that a consumer can ingest nearly 0.7 mg plastic on average while eating a normal serving of a squid or an oyster. In the case of sardines, the consumer can ingest nearly 30 mg of microplastic.
The scientists gathered five different seafood varieties for this analysis. This included oysters, blue crabs, squid, sardines, and prawns. The scientists took the edible portion of each sample and tested for the presence of plastic in seafood.
The researchers found different types of plastic in seafood samples that usually come from marine debris, packaging, and synthetic textiles. The amount of microplastic varied among different samples. Different species had different quantities of plastic. Also, it varied among different samples from the same seafood specie.
The study showed the presence of polyvinyl chloride in all seafood samples. Polyethylene was the most concentrated plastic present in the samples. Ribeiro said that the larges microplastic content was present in sardines. The sample consisted of 30mg of plastic.
Tamara Galloway, the co-author of this study said that scientists do not completely understand the harm of eating this plastic content. However, this research will help figure out the risk that ingesting plastic poses to human health.
Nearly 17% of the total protein consumption around the world comes from seafood. Hence, people consuming these products are also eating plastic. Previously, researchers also found traces of plastic in beer, sea salt, honey, and even bottled water.
The scientists suggest that the microplastics reached the body of the animals by ingesting it. Also, the handling of the fish during transport can deposit the plastic in their body.
The high content of plastic in sardine might come from the packaging. The sardines usually come packaged in polyethylene bags. These bags can shed plastic due to the low density of the material.
The study shows that marine life is becoming more contaminated with plastic from different sources. Meanwhile, scientists do not completely know the effect of this consumption of plastic in seafood on human health.