Fish are ‘stuffing themselves’ on plastic but scientists are still trying to figure out what effect that might have on those of us who eat seafood.
It’s clear that waste ends up in marine habitats from many different sources – from inefficient industrial waste management to plastic microfibers washed out of our clothing.
But it’s less clear what the end result might be for human health.
Fish appear to be “stuffing themselves” on plastic, which is coated in bacteria and algae – mimicking their natural food sources.
Much of that plastic ends up in the guts of fish and other marine life and ultimately on our dinner table.
While the actual plastic bits might be in the stomachs of fish the chemical used to manufacture the plastic ‘may migrate into fish flesh and thus edible parts of seafood’ explains Rolf Halden director of Arizona State University’s Center for Environmental Security.
Those chemicals that have ‘hitched a ride on plastics’ may sometimes be found ‘in accumulated concentrations that may be harmful to humans’ says Halden.
In a study published in 2015 marine researchers bought fish at public markets in California and Indonesia and examined their stomach contents.
A previous study in 2014 found microplastics in the guts of oysters and mussels sold at supermarkets.
In the case of oysters and mussels – people eat the entire organism, including the gut.