The tiniest specks of plastic can enter the human food chain, finds study

Source: The post is based on the article “The tiniest specks of plastic can enter the human food chain, finds study” published in Indian Express on 22nd September 2022

What is the News?

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have found that small pieces of plastic called nanoplastics can travel up the human food web, through plants, insects and even fish. 

What are Nanoplastics?

Nanoplastics are tiny plastic debris particles smaller than 1,000 nanometres (1 nm is equal to one billionth of a metre).

What was the study conducted?

A team of researchers developed a new, metallic fingerprint-based method to detect and measure the amount of nanoplastics in organisms.

For their study, they applied the technique to a model food chain that contains three trophic levels (trophic level is the position an organism occupies in the food chain) — lettuce, which was the primary producer, black soldier fly larvae, the primary consumer and insectivorous fish (roach) as the secondary consumer.

For the study, the researchers exposed lettuce plants to nano plastics and then harvested and fed it to black soldier fly larvae. The insects were then fed to the fish (roaches).

The researchers then examined the dissected plants, insect larvae and fish. They found that nano plastics can travel up the human food web, through plants, insects and even fish. 

What is the significance of this study?

Due to their small size, nano plastics can likely pass through physiological barriers and enter organisms.

This indicates that the presence of tiny plastic particles in soil could be associated with a potential health risk to herbivores and humans if these findings are found to be generalizable to other plants and crops and to field settings.

Print Friendly and PDF