Microplastics climb the food chain through plants and animals, study finds

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland has shown that microplastics easily move up the food chain through plants and animals.

The study indicates that plants suck up synthetic contaminants from the soil, and animals or insects that nibble on those greens replenish nanoplastics.

Plastic particles smaller than a micrometer are mostly the result of large pieces of plastic weathered by natural processes.

According to the study’s lead scientist, Fazel Monikh, when tiny 250 nm particles of polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride are fed lettuce, which in turn is fed black soldier fly larvae eaten by roaches hungry, they prove that microplastics can easily move up the food chain. .

The researchers encased the rare element gadolinium in the tiny plastics to track them more easily because these particles are difficult to detect and can be changed during their physiological journeys.

To ensure that the plastic completely covered the metal, the scientists used a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

Caused by pollutants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, biomagnification occurs when chemicals absorbed at lower trophic levels become more concentrated as they move up the food chain.

Monikh said, “Our results show that lettuce can absorb nanoplastics from the soil and transfer them up the food chain.”

“This indicates that the presence of tiny plastic particles in soil could be associated with a potential health risk to herbivores and humans if these findings prove generalizable to other plants and crops and to fields.”

From the deepest ocean trenches to the remote isolation of Antarctica, microplastics are now ubiquitous in all environments and flow through our bodies every day.

Unlike their original larger particles, the particular concern with these tiny particles is that they are small enough to pass through many other physiological barriers.

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