From the Field: Plastic Waste: Stop Killing Our Oceans

Date Aired: March 22

The Threat of Microplastics

The biggest threat to oceans around the world comes in the form of microplastics, the smallest type of plastics. These plastics manage to enter the human body by way of clams and other seafood. What affect does that have on our health?

Plastic waste floating in the ocean is causing extreme harm to marine life. The biggest threat worldwide is from “microplastics.” Various types of plastic waste are broken down in the water, leaving pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm, some so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. These pieces can end up in the human body. But how?

“These black pieces behind me are not rocks, they are mussels. Mussels are facing a catastrophic issue.” (Ayumu Toyoshima, Reporter)

According to Dr. Colin Janssen from Ghent University in Belgium, “Microplastics can be found in almost all of these mussels.”

Microplastics that mussels ingest are found in a surprising place inside the mussels.

All of these green pieces are microplastics. We humans end up eating these mussels that contain microplastics within the cells. Those who love seafood end up consuming 10,000 pieces of microplastics per year. 99% exit the body, but some pieces will remain. The quantity amounts to…

After 30 years, the human body will collect up to 1800 pieces of microplastics, at most. How will this affect human health?

Dr. Janssen shared research results with us, the world’s first of its kind. The grave issue is the affect that microplastics have on planktons, which is prey to fish that humans consume.

You can see these small pieces of microplastic through the microscope. The moment the plankton shakes is when it is ingesting microplastic, mistaking it for food. Research results have shown for the first time that the population of plankton decreases as they naturally ingest microplastics like this, and will be wiped out. What happens then?

Dr. Janssen warns that within several decades, marine food chain will be put at risk, and the population of fish will decrease.

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