Plastic nanoparticles in oceans seem to have a damaging effect on sea life. Called as ‘plastic soup,’ this occurs when plastic debris entering the sea decomposes. Plastic nanoparticles also enter from washed clothes and from cosmetics.
Presently, little knowledge is available about the effects of plastics in seas. The studies so far do not show plastic pollution as a major problem. The Dutch government and the European Union have recognized this issue. They have decided that the existence of plastics in the oceans needs to be monitored.
Researchers at Wageningen University and IMARES performed a study using blue mussels. Different concentrations of nanoplastics and different quantities of algae were tried on the mussels. Algae are the standard source of food for mussels. The plastic nanoparticles were given a color and were measured using dynamic light scattering. This helped in determining the nanoplastics.
Further, the researchers found that the quality of water and its variation, and the type of organisms played an important role in the amount of particles taken-in by the mussels. They found that clumping of tiny plastic particles also played an important role in understanding the uptake of particles by the marine organisms.
Professor Bart Koelmans from Wageningen University stated that since the biological availability of the particles varied significantly between organisms, the negative effects were difficult to predict.
The present publication forms part of four studies. The other studies include those on lugworms and plastic debris in the stomachs of fish.