Consult the tea leaves, and you’ll find… microplastics!

Most of the plastic in the ocean is not readily identifiable. Rather it’s in the form of small, microscopic particles that are released when plastic and synthetic fibers break off and break down from their original use items, such as laundry, straws, and… teabags! A group of researchers from McGill University have found that billions of microplastics are released when steeping tea from synthetic fiber tea bags.

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Surviving in the age of microplastics: the tale of a curious shrimp

Each year, a tremendous amount of plastic waste enters the marine environment. As plastic ages, it breaks down in to smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics, but never degrades. These tiny plastic fibers are eaten by numerous organisms and can cause organ damage or even death. But one species is able to rid its stomach of accidentally ingested microplastics. This is the tale of the Atlantic ditch shrimp and how it will survive in the age of microplastics.

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The Fabric Cycle: Generating Microplastics from our Laundry

Tons of microplastics are entering the oceans each year in the form of microfibers from laundering textiles. Recent research shows fabric type and washing settings can influence the amount of microfibers released into the environment from your home laundry. Read more to find out how you can reduce your footprint.

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Microplastics: Smells like dinner

Microplastic pollution is a trending concern as these tiny plastic pieces can end up dinner for small ocean critters such as copepods. Copepods are tiny, cosmopolitan marine creatures that are a vital food source for fish, birds, and many more. In the vast ocean, many copepods find their food, algae, by scent, as some algae give off a sulfur smell from the compound dimethyl sulfide. This study set out to test if copepods would be more likely to eat microplastics that were infused with this sulfur-scented compound.

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What can sea turtles tell us about the plastics in our oceans?

Some of our best insight into the types of plastic litter in the ocean comes from examining what is ingested by sea turtles. Recent research looks at how the composition of plastic waste changes with ocean depth, as informed by the eating patterns of sea turtles.

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Microplastics take flight—how mosquitoes move microscopic pollutants from water to land

Discarded plastics aren’t only disrupting the ocean, they accumulate in freshwaters too. And the impacts may not end there. Aquatic insects eat microplastics and, when they become adults, carry the polluting particles from water onto land and potentially into the stomachs of their predators.

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