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Surprising Science

Study: 73% of fish in the Northwestern Atlantic have plastic in their guts

And that’s the good news, because the percentage found in your tap water is much higher.
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Well, today’s a real red-letter day if you happen to be a Northwestern Atlantic fish. A report in Frontiers of Marine Science suggests that almost 3 out of every 4 fish in the Northwestern Atlantic most likely has plastic polymers in their stomachs.

Oceanic researchers (or as I’d love to call them, seasearchers) from the University of Galway conducted a study off of the coast of Newfoundland in April of 2015 and found that a huge percentage of the 233 fish from 7 different species studied had traceable amounts of plastics within them. The findings of that study were only recently published — click here if you want to read the full thing.

Most of the plastic fibers found were polyethylene, one of the most commonly available commercial plastics found in everything from grocery store bags to water bottles. The bags break up relatively quickly in the ocean due to UV rays (from sun exposure) and the constant motion of the ocean, but they only break up so far. These smaller pieces usually measure from 1mm to 5mm… which is just about the perfect size for a fish to eat.

And if you think that microplastics won’t affect you, dig this: last year it was reported that 94 percent of American tap water has plastic in it.

“Plastic is all but indestructible, meaning plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade; rather, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, even down to particles in nanometer scale — one-one thousandth of one-one thousandth of a millimeter,” said Chris Tyree and Dan Morrison, the authors of Invisibles: The Plastic Inside Us. “Studies show particles of that size can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to the lymph nodes and other bodily organs.”


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