Microplastics Harm Marine Life

Sydney Holder

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Microplastics, little pieces of plastic that are extremely harmful to the ocean and marine life, are residing in glitter, cosmetic products and several other synthetic and artificial items.  Petitions have been brought up concerning this issue and some propose banning some of these certain products.  

Microplastics are currently an “emerging field of study”, and therefore, little is known about these potentially damaging pieces of plastic.  Recent studies have discovered that these microplastics are being commonly found in the ocean and could be harmful to marine organisms, as much as plastic bags and six pack rings are.  

Researchers have confirmed that toxins and chemicals can be transferred from these microplastics to marine animals.  Once within these animals, these toxins can wreak havoc across the organisms’ bodies, affecting their feeding, breeding, movement, growth, and overall health.  

Nonetheless, laboratory tests indicate that even very tiny particles can cause cellular damage in mammals. Microplastics have been found inside the bodies of a wide variety of marine organisms including invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals, and the ingestion of microplastics may have an effect on the feeding, movement, growth and breeding success of the host organism,” reads Green4Sea.  

An example of one of the many organisms harmed because of microplastics, would be the lugworm.  Lugworms are marine creatures that feed on plankton, but are well-known for consuming anything that is filtered through the sand.  The lugworm is known as an important food source for several other marine animals.  

“They determined that lugworms experienced a variety of problems as a result of consuming the microplastics and the chemicals they carry, including a reduced ability to feed. This has a knock-on effect as the lugworms effectively filter sand and prevent silt build up. If their ability to filter is hampered, the detritus could build up and impact other animals,” reads Safety4Sea.  

Some researchers have gone as far to say that a legal ban is to be called for some products, such as glitter; one of these people being, New Zealand environmental anthropologist, Trisia Farrelly.  

Other researchers, such as, Alice Horton, a research associate at Britain’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology and Richard Thompson, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth in western Britain, believe that microplastic is a very serious issue to be tampered with, however, there are other methods to regulate how much plastic is leaked into the environment.  

“To avoid being apart of the microplastic problem, start by checking the labels of all your cosmetics to determine if they contain any plastic-based products,” advised Lush Ltd., a U.K.-base cosmetics retailer.  

With a recent outlook on things, microbeads often found in care products, such as facial cleansers, have started to be banned across the globe.  Cosmetic companies are attempting to use natural products rather than the microplastic-containing products we have used in the past.  This contribution will hopefully be the start for a new era of clean waters and healthy marine life.  

 

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Microplastics Harm Marine Life