Microplastics increase the harm of organic pollutants tenfold.

Scientists from Tel Aviv University have proven that microplastics act as carriers of harmful organic substances present in the environment, which increase their harm tenfold. New research shows that microplastics floating in the sea absorb toxic organic compounds and increase their damage tenfold, on average.

A microplastic is a plastic particle size ranging from several tens of micrometers to several millimeters. They are found almost everywhere – in wells, soil, food products, bottled water, and even in Arctic glaciers, because plastics degrade very slowly, even over thousands of years, and in the process they break down into smaller and smaller pieces. . Various types of organic matter, often toxic, such as sticking to the surface of these particles.

The authors of a study published in the prestigious “Chemosphere” journal analyzed the entire chain of related processes – from the moment microplastics come into contact with pollutants, to their release. “For the first time, we are presenting the full + life + cycle of microplastics – from their release into the environment, through the adsorption of pollutants to their increased toxicity to humans. The amount of garbage dumped into the ocean each year is huge – best example being a large plastic island in the Pacific Ocean. Its area is 80 times, but this is not only a problem of remote areas – according to our data, the coasts of Israel are among the most polluted by microplastics in the human body,” says one of the researchers, Andre Eitan Rubin.

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It turns out that when entering the digestive system with water or food, the plastic particles release toxins that have accumulated near the cells that line the intestines. “In our study, we have shown that even low concentrations of environmental pollutants that are not normally harmful to humans become toxic when bonded to microplastics. This is because microplastics act little as a magnet for pollutants, transporting them to our digestive system and releasing them in a concentrated concentration, thus increasing the toxicity of these compounds,” as Study author Dr. Ennis Zucker explains.

More information: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653521036869

Marek Matakz

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