The Daily Telegraph

Thames is most polluted river in Europe with microplast­ics

- By Helena Horton

THE Thames is the worst major river in Europe for microplast­ic pollution, scientists have concluded after they found 94,000 pieces of plastic flowed down it every second.

While the river has been cleaned of many pollutants including trace metals in recent decades, with many lost species of fish returning, the research found plastic pollution is a growing problem.

Researcher­s at the Royal Holloway, University of London, found the Thames had a higher density of microplast­ics than other major European rivers, including the Rhine in Germany and the Danube in Romania.

The most commonly found pieces are from food-and-drink wrappers, researcher­s said, highlighti­ng the problem of litter in the capital.

The research, published in Science of the Total Environmen­t and Environmen­tal Pollution, said an examinatio­n of 135 crabs in the river resulted in 874 pieces of plastic being removed from their bodies.

Discarded wet wipes also formed “reefs” near the shoreline, and clams in the area contained synthetic polymers, possibly from the wet wipes and other pollutants such as sanitary items.

Katherine Mccoy, one of the research team, said: “Our study shows that stricter regulation­s are needed for the labelling and disposal of these products.”

Prof Dave Morritt, from the department of biological sciences at Royal Holloway, said: “These studies show how many different types of plastic, from microplast­ics in the water through to larger items of debris physically altering the foreshore, can potentiall­y affect a wide range of organisms.”

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