Microplastic and oil pollution in oceans and environmental impacts



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Microplastic and oil pollution in oceans and environmental impacts

Microplastic and oil pollution in oceans: Interactions and environmental impacts, study published on The Science of the total environment, explains in his retrospective: "Microplastics (MPs) have been found in oil-polluted oceans, but studies on MPs and oil were still focused on their respective transport, biodegradation, and bioaccumulation.

The interactions between MPs and oil in the marine environment remain unknown. MPs would incorporate with oil to form MP-oil agglomerate (MOA), the behaviors of MOA were thus discussed in this study. It was found that the MOA formation resulted in the decreased oil dispersion efficacy and affect marine oil spill response operations.

Moreover, oil biodegradation rate would be changed when oil existed as the form of MOA. The slow vertical transport of MOA might lead to wider ocean contamination. MOA would cause much worse impacts on phytoplankton, zooplankton, and high trophic species in the marine environment than MPs or oil individually.

MOA assembling with phytoplankton in oceans may reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) transport to deep seas. Exploring the interactions between MPs and oil in the marine environment opened a door for understanding MPs and oil as co-contaminants." 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.

77% of the blood of people tested by researchers at the Vrije University of Amsterdam in 2022 was found to contain microplastics as they can travel in the body and deposit in organs. Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine living beings, which tend to feed on them by mistaking them for plankton.

These minor organisms are in turn inserted into the food chain and being ingested by larger living beings and their predators. The chain can continue until it reaches our tables. Controlling the release of these plastics into the environment therefore means safeguarding marine fauna. Many marine animals such as seagulls or seals have ingested microplastics, affecting health.