Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Scientists Launch Groundbreaking Study on Health Risks of Microplastics in Seafood

Health + Wellness
Milk fish. Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

Each year, 8 million tons of plastic leaches into our oceans. That trash is inadvertently consumed by fish and other marine life, thus impacting the larger food chain. In fact, studies have already found that sea salt can be rich in plastic and that we likely consume the tiny bits that get embedded in many types of seafood.

Despite the pervasiveness of plastic, not much is known about how consuming it affects human health.


Now, BBC News reports, Indonesian scientists have launched the largest-ever study on the health risks of microplastic contamination in seafood. Indonesia happens to be the second-largest ocean plastic polluter behind China.

For the study, the researchers will track the diets of 2,000 people over a period of 2-4 weeks in the industrial port city of Semarang, where residents tend to eat a lot of seafood.

During a research trip to fish farms on the coast near Semarang, the researchers observed that nearly every species tested, including the majority of mullet, shrimp and milkfish, contained some plastic particles. Tilapia had the highest concentration, with 85 percent of those tested containing plastic. Cockles had the lowest amount, with 52 percent.

BBC News noted that the goal of the study is to understand how much plastic is contained in seafood, how much of it people eat and whether there is a safe level of consumption.

The study is led by food technologist Inneke Hantoro of Soegijapranata Catholic University.

Hantoro explained to BBC News that just because there is a lack of research in this area, "we cannot let the situation run as usual because we know consumers are starting to be aware of the presence of plastics—it will make them worry, so we need to do something."

Until a definitive safety standard for plastic consumption is available, Hantoro and her team hope to create some "interim guidance."

"We could propose a food safety standard to remove seafood that contains a very high level of microplastics from the market—people don't want to buy something that contains plastic," she added.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Penguins are seen near the Great Wall station in Antarctica, Feb. 9, days after the continent measured its hottest temperature on record at nearly 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Xinhua / Liu Shiping / Getty Images

By Richard Connor

Scientists have recorded Antarctica's first documented heat wave, warning that animal and plant life on the isolated continent could be drastically affected by climate change.

Read More Show Less
The Athos I tanker was carrying crude oil from Venezuela when a collision caused oil to begin gushing into the Delaware River. U.S. Department of the Interior

A case that has bounced around the lower courts for 13 years was finally settled yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision, finding oil giant Citgo liable for a clean up of a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The buildings of downtown Los Angeles are partially obscured in the late afternoon on Nov. 5, 2019, as seen from Pasadena, California, a day when air quality for Los Angeles was predicted to be "unhealthy for sensitive groups." Mario Tama / Getty Images

The evidence continues to build that breathing dirty air is bad for your brain.

Read More Show Less
Wave power in Portugal. The oceans' energy potential is immense. Luis Ascenso, via Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

The amount of energy generated by tides and waves in the last decade has increased tenfold. Now governments around the world are planning to scale up these ventures to tap into the oceans' vast store of blue energy.

Read More Show Less
Yellowstone National Park closed to visitors on March 24, 2020 because of the Covid-19 virus threat. William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images

When the novel coronavirus started to sweep across the country, the National Park Service started to waive entrance fees. The idea was that as we started to practice social distancing, Americans should have unfettered access to the outdoors. Then the parking lots and the visitor centers started to fill up, worrying park employees.

Read More Show Less