Tiny pieces of plastic are making their way into fish and shellfish found at the supermarket, a new study has shown.
The findings are part of a report prepared for the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency responsible for preventing marine pollution.
It’s not yet been established what effect these tiny particles of plastic will have on the humans who consume them, the report says.
Researchers do know, however, that microplastics get into aquatic habitats from many different sources, says Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto and co-editor of the report.
These range from tiny fibres that come off the synthetic fabrics of our clothing, to bits of car tire that wear off on roads and make their way through storm drains into waterways, she says.
They also vary in size such that they can be consumed by marine animals both big and microscopic.
“It has infiltrated every level of the food chain in marine environments and likely fresh water, and so now we’re seeing it come back to us on our dinner plates,” says Rochman.
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