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Microplastics make marine worms sick
Date:12/2/2013

sthat may be similarly affected by the tiny bits of plastic.

Many plastics contain chemical additives, such as plasticizers, dyes, and antimicrobials, which can leach out into sediments and seawater. Microplastics also concentrate water-borne chemicals on their surfaces, such as pesticides and detergents. In other words, the problem with microplastics isn't just the plastic itself, but the complex mix of chemicals the plastics carry with them.

Plastic debris degrades into ever-smaller pieces, which means that a wider range of organisms can ingest this material, and particles of microplastic are now the most abundant form of solid-waste pollution on our planet. Although plastic debris is associated with some of the most persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union, the debris is considered non-hazardous by policy makers.

"The hazard ranking of plastic within policy about debris needs to be reassessed, and funding from industry, not just government, [needs to be] directed towards research that adequately tests the safety of plastics in relation to humans and wildlife," Browne says.

"We believe our study has highlighted the need to reduce the amount of plastic waste and therefore microplastics which enter our seas," says Tamara Galloway of the University of Exeter. "Plastics are enormously beneficial materials. However, if marine plastic pollution continues to increase, impacts such as those demonstrated in our laboratory studies could occur in the natural environment. It is therefore important that we prevent the accumulation of plastic and microplastic debris in marine habitats through better waste-handling practices and smarter choices in the materials we use."


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Contact: Mary Beth O'Leary
moleary@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert  

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