How do mi­crobeads af­fect fish?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A - SUSIE ADAMS, PORTSMOUTH

There’s no doubt that fish and other aquatic an­i­mals eat plas­tic frag­ments (un­der 5mm). Th­ese in­clude ‘mi­crobeads’ that are added to toi­letries and house­hold prod­ucts, as well as fi­bres washed from syn­thetic cloth­ing. A re­cent study found three- quar­ters of flat­fish in the River Thames have eaten mi­croplas­tics. Even deep-sea an­i­mals have syn­thetic fi­bres in their guts. The im­pacts of this are com­plex. Some an­i­mals suf­fer from blocked diges­tive tracts, lead­ing to star­va­tion. An­other con­cern is poi­son­ing from mi­croplas­tics coated in toxic chem­i­cals. There’s still much we don’t know about ex­actly how plas­tics and tox­ins ac­cu­mu­late in food webs.

Plas­tic mi­crobeads (orange spheres) in a fa­cial scrub

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