ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"Microplastics" may pose previously unrecognized pollution threat
Environmental Science & Technology
Microscopic particles of plastic debris that litter marine environments may pose a previously unrecognized threat to marine animals by attracting, holding, and transporting water pollutants, a new study by British researchers is reporting. It is scheduled for the Nov. 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
Emma L. Teuten and colleagues note long-standing awareness that large pieces of plastic waste, including cargo wrapping sheet plastic and six-pack rings, can sicken and kill fish, birds, turtles and other animals. Seawater eventually breaks down these large pieces into microplastics, which can adsorb high levels of PCBs and other toxins. Microplastics also enter the environment directly from use as "scrubbers" in household and industrial cleaning products. However, little research has been done on the environmental impact of these tiny, pollution-packed pellets.
In the new study, researchers exposed several different types and sizes
of microplastics to phenanthrene, a major marine pollutant, and used a
model to predict their effects on a group of sediment-dwelling marine
worms (lugworms). The scientists found that addition of just a few
millionths of a gram of contaminated microplastics to the sediments
caused an 80% increase in phenanthrene accumulation in the tissues of
the worms. Since lugworms are
|Contact: Michael Woods|
American Chemical Society