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 may be hitching a ride from water to land in mosquitos

Microplastics are now found all over, even in freshwater environments such as ponds, rivers and lakes. Young mosquitos live in these freshwater environments and move to land as they mature. Scientists in this study wanted to find out if young mosquitos ingest microplastics found in freshwater environments and carry the microplastics with them to air and land as adults.

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The Fate of Our Microplastics

Microplastics, or plastics smaller than a sesame seed, have become a growing concern for marine environments. A majority of facial cleaners contain microplastics, such as microbeads or micro exfoliates, which get washed down the sink drain and end up in our oceans. A research team in Auckland, New Zealand investigated four local brands, and determined all four brands contained about 150 microplastics per 1.5 grams of cleanser. Most were around the size of a grain of sand, and some were irregularly shaped and susceptible to breaking down into smaller pieces. The apprehension of these findings is that small plastic particles could be confused for food by microscopic marine life, and the plastic could accumulate up the food chain and harm marine life. Furthermore, microplastics can also accumulate chemical toxins in the ocean, and their environmentally persistent nature allows for them to become more toxic as they age. Therefore, simple measures such as using organic facial cleansers, and becoming more aware of our daily habits and products use, are essential to reducing ocean pollution.

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