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Alarming level of microplastics found in fish – Eating it ‘a personal choice’

Much of the fish for human consumption may contain microplastics, scientists have found, with one expert saying the decision to eat fish or not is a “personal choice”.

According to an article published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletinthree-quarters of fish caught off the coast of southern New Zealand contained some degree of microplastic in their tissues.

Microplastics are tiny plastic fragments defined as less than 0.2 inches in diameter.

“75% of the fish I sampled had ingested microplastic. I sampled fish over a two-year period, in all seasons, along the southeast coast of southern Aotearoa, New Zealand. , from Oamaru to Te Waewae Bay,” said a coastal scientist. and lead study author Isabella Clere said Pleasemynews.

“I found a similar ingestion rate between pelagic (surface dwelling) and benthic (bottom dwelling) fish, suggesting that plastics are ubiquitous throughout the water column and a persistent feature in the ocean.”

According National geographicsome microplastics are tiny particles engineered to be this size for use in cosmetics or microfiber clothing, while others result from the breakdown of large pieces of plastic caused by environmental degradation.

According to a 2021 estimate from a study published in the journal Microplastics and Nanoplasticsthere are an estimated 24.4 trillion pieces of microplastic in the world’s upper oceans, with a combined weight of 82,000 to 578,000 tonnes.

These microplastics are found in most marine organisms, often by being eaten.

Clere’s New Zealand study found that 391 pieces of microplastic were recovered from the 155 fish examined across 10 species. About 98% of the microplastic pieces were less than 3mm.

“We examined a range of benthic (bottom dwelling) and pelagic (surface dwelling) fish and found microplastics in the guts of all species, suggesting the ubiquity of microplastics in all ocean layers,” the study said. study co-author Bridie Allan at a university. of the Otago Declaration.

“A random selection of fish intestines were analyzed to identify the type of plastic, the majority being polyethylene, viscose, polypropylene and plastic additives. Polyethylene is the most widely used and also the most common plastic in the world’s oceans,” she added. said.

“Because the fish were collected over the course of a year, rather than at a specific time, this suggests that the presence of microplastics in our southern waters is a persistent feature.”

While a variety of microplastics have been found in fish across the world, the New Zealand study marks the first time a similar trend has been observed in the southern hemisphere.

“There has been research globally on microplastics in fish, with similar results to my study. The southern hemisphere has had limited research on marine microplastic pollution, with the majority of studies focusing on marine microplastic pollution. northern hemisphere and around ocean gyres,” Clere said.

Ocean gyres are large systems of circular ocean currents formed by wind patterns and the forces created by the Earth’s rotation.

Microplastics are known to bioaccumulate in food chains, increasingly concentrating in the tissues of predators. This can harm the health of the animals: according to American Scientistmicroplastic particles can damage organs by rubbing against organ walls, as well as carrying pollutants to their surface, causing liver damage.

“Generally, with seafood eaten whole like sardines, anchovies and shellfish, there is a greater risk of secondary transfer of plastics,” Clear said.

“Plastics also contain a range of chemicals, some of which can be transferred to humans through ingestion. However, very little research has been conducted to date on the risks associated with the secondary transfer of plastics and chemicals associated with the man. .”

Speaking to Radio New Zealand morning report Clere said: “We need to be aware of our use and potential misuse of plastic and how it gets into the natural environment and potentially affects us, but in terms of consumption it’s really a personal choice. “,

Microplastics are also increasingly present in the human body. A 2022 study in the journal International Environment first discovered microplastics in human blood.

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