Microplastics in Antarctic krill from Antarctic region

Microplastics come from various sources: they are found massively in products such as cosmetics, personal and household hygiene products, building materials, industries and agriculture

by Lorenzo Ciotti
SHARE
Microplastics in Antarctic krill from Antarctic region

"Pollution of microplastics (MPs) has become a potential threat to Antarctic marine ecosystems. However, the occurrence of MPs in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a keystone species in Antarctic ecosystems, remains unclear.

In this study, the abundance and characteristics of MPs were examined in Antarctic krill samples (n = 437) collected from two Antarctic regions.MPs were extracted using an alkali digestion method and analyzed using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy.

The mean abundance of MPs in Antarctic krill samples from the South Shetland Islands ( n = 355) and the South Orkney Islands (n = 82) were 0.29 ± 0.14 and 0.20 ± 0.083 items/individual, respectively.>90 % of MPs found in Antarctic krill were < 150 μm in size.Fibers represented 77 % and 87 % of the MPs in Antarctic krill samples from the South Shetland Islands and the South Orkney Islands, respectively.

Black, blue, and red were the predominant colors of MPs in Antarctic krill, accounting for 32 %, 22 %, and 21 % of the total MPs, respectively. Seven polymer compositions were identified for the MPs in Antarctic krill, with the predominance of polyethylene (37 % of total MPs), followed by polypropylene (22 %) and polyester (21 %).

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the occurrence of MPs in Antarctic krill samples. The results of this study are important for evaluating the risks of MP exposure in Antarctic krill." This was published in the study Microplastics in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) from Antarctic region, published in the The Science of the total environment.

Microplastics come from various sources: they are found massively in products such as cosmetics, personal and household hygiene products, building materials, industries and agriculture. In cosmetics, microplastics often constitute up to 90% of the total weight of the product, as in the case of skin exfoliants.

Tire wear also produces microplastics. A large quantity of microplastics is of household origin, such as those coming from the washing of synthetic garments, which are poured into the water. This problem can be reduced by special filters, washing at low temperatures and the use of liquid detergents.

Agriculture is also a producer of microplastics. The sheets that are used to mulch disintegrate into the soil when they are not collected and disposed of properly at the end of the crop cycle. Left on the ground, plastics can degrade by abrasion, by atmospheric agents and by the action of insects or mammals.