Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine creatures, 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.
The research Microplastics pollution in the ocean: Potential carrier of resistant bacteria and resistance genes, published on the Environmental pollution, makes an interesting retrospective on a topic that worries the scientific community and environmental associations.
Microplastics pollution in the ocean and associated risks
The researchers say: "Microplastics pollution in marine environments is concerning. Microplastics persist and accumulate in various sections of the ocean where they present opportunity for micropollutant accumulation and microbial colonisation.
Even though biofilm formation on plastics was first reported in the 1970's, it is only in recent years were plastic associated biofilms have gained research attention. Plastic surfaces pose a problem as they are a niche ready for colonization by diverse biofilm assemblages, composed of specific bacterial communities and putative pathogens prone to acquiring ARGs and resistance in the biofilm.However, the nature of antibiotic resistance on aquatic plastic debris is not yet fully understood and remains a concern.
Given the inevitable increase of plastic production and waste generation, microplastics released into the environment may prove to be problematic.This review explores microplastic waste in the ocean and possible concerns that may arise from the presence of microplastics in conjunction with favorable conditions for the development and dispersal of antibiotic resistance in the ocean and food web." Recent studies have shown that microplastic pollution has reached the food chain affecting not only marine fauna but also foods such as sea salt, beer and honey.
Although specific studies have not been conducted, there is also the possibility that the fragments arrive on our tables through meat; in fact, poultry and pigs are also fed with flour made from small fish that can be contaminated. Some studies have found that a person can ingest up to 5 grams in a week.