Mouse study shows microplastics infiltrate blood brain barrier

Mouse study shows microplastics infiltrate blood brain barrier

Much of the millions of metric tons of plastic waste that washes into the sea each year is broken down into tiny fragments by the forces of the ocean, and researchers are beginning to piece together what this means for organisms that consume them. Scientists in Korea have turned their attention toward the top of the food chain by exploring the threat these particles pose to mammal brains, where they were found to act as toxic substances.

In recent years, studies have revealed the kind of threat microplastics pose to marine creatures. This has included weakening the adhesive abilities of muscles, impairing the cognitive ability of hermit crabs and causing aneurysms and reproductive changes in fish. They’ve turned up in the guts of sea turtles all over the world, and been discovered in seal poo as evidence of them traveling up the food chain. Research has also shown they can alter the shape of human lung cells.

Read the full story here: https://newatlas.com/environment/microplastics-blood-brain-barrier/

Nanoplastics — an underestimated problem?

via Science Daily

Wherever scientists look, they can spot them: whether in remote mountain lakes, in Arctic sea ice, in the deep-ocean floor or in air samples, even in edible fish — thousands upon thousands of microscopic plastic particles in the micro to millimeter range. This microplastic is now even considered one of the defining features of the Anthropocene, the age of the Earth shaped by modern humans.

Microplastics are formed by weathering and physicochemical or biological degradation processes from macroscopic plastic products, such as the tons of plastic waste in the oceans. It is unlikely that these degradation processes will stop at the micrometer scale. And so there is growing concern about the potential harmful effects nanoplastics could have on various ecosystems. “Numerous media reports suggest, through their sometimes highly emotional coverage, that we are facing a huge problem here,” says Empa researcher Bernd Nowack, who has long studied the material flows of synthetic micro- and nanoparticles, for example from textiles or tire abrasion, into the environment. But Nowack says at present this statement can hardly be substantiated by scientific findings: “We don’t even know how much nanoplastics there is in the different ecosystems.”

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210504112641.htm

Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful?

via Nature.com

Dunzhu Li used to microwave his lunch each day in a plastic container. But Li, an environmental engineer, stopped when he and his colleagues made a disturbing discovery: plastic food containers shed huge numbers of tiny specks — called microplastics — into hot water. “We were shocked,” Li says. Kettles and baby bottles also shed microplastics, Li and other researchers, at Trinity College Dublin, reported last October1. If parents prepare baby formula by shaking it up in hot water inside a plastic bottle, their infant might end up swallowing more than one million microplastic particles each day, the team calculated.

What Li and other researchers don’t yet know is whether this is dangerous. Everyone eats and inhales sand and dust, and it’s not clear if an extra diet of plastic specks will harm us. “Most of what you ingest is going to pass straight through your gut and out the other end,” says Tamara Galloway, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Exeter, UK. “I think it is fair to say the potential risk might be high,” says Li, choosing his words carefully.

Read the full story here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01143-3

Researchers uncover highest-ever amount of microplastics on ocean floor

via CBS News

Researchers have uncovered the highest-ever concentration of microplastics on the seafloor. According to a new study in the journal Science, scientists recently found 1.9 million pieces in an area of about 11 square feet in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Over 10 million tons of plastic waste enter oceans each year — but the visible floating plastic that has led to anti-straw and anti-plastic bag movements accounts for less than 1% of the ocean’s total plastic.

Read the full story here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/highest-ever-concentration-microplastic-ocean-floor-plastic-pollution/