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They are one of the most urgent and current environmental emergencies: the microplastics, those little plastic particles that pollute our oceans and seas. Their danger to the health of the environment and of humans is the focus of attention in international scientific studies and public opinion around the world.
Microplastics have been found almost everywhere by science: in fish, shellfish, drinking water, human feces, table salt and even beer. Now, a new study conducted by a team of Newcastle University researchers, has detected the presence of these dangerous particles in the deepest points of the ocean, where it is impossible to eliminate them and where they are inevitably ingested by marine organisms that populate the abyss.
Microplastics in the oceans: the study
The research, entitled "Microplastics and synthetic particles ingested by deep-sea amphipods in six of the deepest marine ecosystems on Earth" and published in the magazine Royal Society Open Science, demonstrated that there is no ocean ecosystem not contaminated by theplastic pollution, which involves even the most remote places on the planet. Newcastle University biologists have detected the ingestion of microplastics by living organisms in six of the deepest ocean areas on Earth, ranging from 6,000 to 10,890 meters.
Scientists were looking for new species. Between 2008 and 2017, their expedition reached six ocean trenches, on the western and eastern sides of the Pacific: the Chilean-Peruvian trench, the New Hebrides, the Kermadec trench, the Japan trench, the Izu-Bonin trench and there The Mariannes Trench. The biologists' nets have descended to almost 11 kilometers deep, capturing creatures capable of living in extreme conditions. The researchers analyzed the stomachs of the organisms, finding the presence of tiny plastic fibers, such as polyester, polyvinyl and polyethylene, mainly coming from clothing.
Among the organisms analyzed there were 90 specimens from the family of Lysianassidae, tiny crustaceans with a semi-transparent body. About 72% of the specimens examined (65 out of 90) had at least one microplasty inside the intestine. The lowest percentage was found in the Trench of the New Hebrides, where 50% of the crustaceans were contaminated. The highest was instead observed in the Mariana Trench, at the deepest point on Earth. Here 100% of the samples had ingested at least one plastic microparticle.
“Once the materials reach the ocean depths - has explained Alan Jamieson, lead author of the study - waste has nowhere else to go. A contaminated river can be clean, coastal pollution can be diluted by the tides, but at the deepest point of the oceans, plastic waste settles". And it becomes impossible to eliminate them.
A research that makes you think and that demonstrates for the umpteenth time how devastating the impact of pollution from microplastics is. For the environment and for the health of us human beings, who in one way or another continue to assimilate these tiny particles, remaining contaminated in turn.