A new study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland has shown that microplastics are easily climbing the food chain through both plants and animals.
The study says that plants suck synthetic contaminants up from the soil and animals or insects munching on those greens get their fill of nanoplastics.
Plastic particles less than one micrometre in size are primarily the result of bigger plastic pieces being weathered down by natural processes.
According to the study’s lead scientist Fazel Monikh, when tiny 250 nm particles of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride are fed to lettuce, which in turn is fed to black soldier fly larvae eaten by hungry roach fish, they prove that microplastics can easily climb the food chain.
Researchers encased the rare element gadolinium within the tiny plastics to more easily track them because these particles are hard to detect and can be altered during their physiological journeys.
In order to ensure that the plastic completely covered the metal, the scientists used a scanning electron microscope (SEM).
Caused by pollutants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, biomagnification is when the chemicals taken up at the lower trophic levels become more concentrated as they pass up the food chain.
Monikh said, ”Our results show that lettuce can take up nano plastics from the soil and transfer them into the food chain.”
“This indicates that the presence of tiny plastic particles in soil could be associated with a potential health risk to herbivores and humans if these findings are found to be generalisable to other plants and crops and to field settings.”
From the deepest ocean trenches to the remote isolation of Antarctica, microplastics are now ubiquitous in every environment and are passing through our bodies every day.
Unlike their larger particles of origin, the particular concern about these tiny particles is that they’re small enough to pass through many more physiological barriers.
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