How animals are at risk from microplastic pollution

The presence of microplastics has been documented in marine organisms belonging to different species and with different eating habits, from planktonic species to invertebrates and predators

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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How animals are at risk from microplastic pollution

"Plastic based products are ubiquitous due to their tremendous utility in our daily lives. However, the limited biodegradable nature of plastics has recently raised pollution concerns globally, especially micro- and nanoplastics.

These anthropogenic pollutants are either manufactured specifically in the small size range for various commercial applications or formed due to fragmentation of macro plastics in the environment. Micro- and nanoplastics are currently widespread in the oceans, freshwater bodies, land and even present in our food.

The biological effects of micro- and nanoplastics on aquatic organisms are well documented but their impacts on mammalian system have not been rigorously investigated. This review discusses the potential routes of exposure to micro- and nanoplastics, biological effects of these particles in mammalian cells, factors influencing toxicity, and the probable mechanisms of cytotoxicity.

In general, small size, positive charge, high dose, and presence of toxic additives or pollutants in the micro/nanoplastics appear to induce cellular toxicity through oxidative stress, membrane damage, immune response and genotoxicity.

Understanding the cellular fate and toxicity of these materials may help extrapolate risks to mammals."

How animals are at risk from microplastic pollution

This was reported by The Micro-and nanoplastic induced cellular toxicity in mammals: A review study, published on the The Science of the total environment.

The presence of microplastics has been documented in marine organisms belonging to different species and with different eating habits, from planktonic species to invertebrates and predators. But it has also been found in land mammals.

The whole cycle of life is threatened by this serious problem, which threatens to undermine both the life of the animals themselves and of all ecosystems. Both categories of microplastics have been found to persist in the environment in large quantities, especially in marine and aquatic ecosystems.

This is because plastic deforms but does not break over many years, can be ingested and accumulated in the body and in the tissues of many organisms. The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment has not yet been studied in depth mainly due to the difficulty of analyzing a mixture of various types of more or less inert plastics.