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Highest levels of microplastics in mussels and scallops

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Highest levels of microplastics in mussels and scallops

Mussels, oysters and scallops contain more microplastics than any other seafood. The molluscs have nearly five times the levels of the pollutants that have been found in fish.

Microplastics leak from plastic waste dumped in the oceans and rivers, and small amounts have been discovered accumulating in our organs, including the brain, although scientists aren’t yet clear what harm they can cause.

The molluscs contain, on average, 10.5 microplastics per gram (MPs/g), while crustaceans, such as shrimp and crab, have 8.6 MPs/g, and fish contain around 2.9 MPs/g. Molluscs caught off the coasts of Asia have the highest levels of microplastics, probably because the waters are the most heavily polluted by plastics.

Researchers from Hull York Medical School analysed more than 50 previously published studies to estimate the amount of microplastics we ingest when we eat seafood. Eating molluscs poses a special hazard because we tend to eat the entire animal while only part of a fish is consumed.

Lead author Evangelos Danopoulos said that microplastics do cause us harm, although we aren’t sure yet what that may be, and it’s a growing problem, with the dumping of plastics in oceans anticipated to triple by 2060.

(Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, 2020; 128: 126002)

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