Microplastics found in the sea carry toxic bugs which are harmful to humans, fish and the environment, research has found, according to Daily Mail.
Scientists have tested tiny pieces smaller than 5mm and found vibrio bacteria, a major cause of wound infections, and arcobacter, which causes gastroenterititis.
They also detected bugs which can kill coral, leading to bleaching, and poison fish.
The pollution could potentially contribute to food poisoning outbreaks as plastic pieces are also eaten by fish and seafood species such as mussels and oysters, the research suggests.
The findings highlight the urgent need to tackle the huge amount of plastic – an estimated 7million tons a year worldwide – flooding into the sea from litter and other sources.
To help combat the scourge of litter, the Mail is urging readers to take part in the Great British Spring Clean between March 22 and April 23 organised with Keep Britain Tidy. So far, an amazing 47,603 people have volunteered.
For the latest study, 275 pieces of microplastic from the Singapore coast at Lazarus Island, Sembawang Beach and Changi Beach were examined. Researchers from the National University of Singapore found more than 400 types of bacteria during the study carried out between April and July 2018.
‘Microplastics form a large proportion of plastic pollution in marine environments,’ said lead scientist Dr Sandric Leong, senior research fellow at the university’s Tropical Marine Science Institute. ‘Marine organisms may consume bits of microplastics unintentionally, and this could lead to the accumulation and subsequent transfer of marine pathogens in the food chain.
‘Hence, understanding the distribution of microplastics and identifying the organisms attached to them are crucial steps in managing the plastic pollution on a national and global scale.’
Microplastics in marine ecosystems take a much longer time to degrade due to the presence of salt and a lower temperature in the ocean.
The bacteria photobacterium rosenbergii, often associated with coral bleaching and disease, was also identified, reported the study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The proliferation and accumulation of this species could be detrimental to coral reefs in Singapore as its southern strait is characterised by multiple biodiverse coral habitats which are being conserved.
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