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Microplastics transport pathogenic germs from continent to continent

Microplastics transport pathogenic germs from continent to continent

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Photo: dw.com

Date : Sep 04, 2017 10:16 AM

Scientists through the example of amber study the migration principles of particles of polystyrene, acrylic and polyamide

In the 50’s and 60’s of the XX century, with the start of the «plastic era», microscopic particles of plastic appeared in the oceans and seas. It`s process of decomposition takes from 100 to 600 years. In course of time, the surface of the particles will crack and become rough — this is the ideal «home» for the pathogens reproduction. Light plastic repeatedly migrate between the beach and the underwater slope. Scientists admit that with its help pathogenic bacteria come from African countries to Europe, and European pathogens, in turn, to other continents. Fishes and birds swallow the microplastic taking it for food. Then, after they get to the person`s table, solid particles of harmful substances get into the human body.

It`s  impossible to describe the microplastic movement in water, said Irina Chubarenko, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, head of the laboratory of the sea physics in the P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences. «It is found all over the world, even in the Arctic and Antarctic. It can float on the water surface and can be frozen into ice and buried in deep-sea sediments. The most important is to learn how it is transferred. This is what we are trying to understand».

Taking into account the fact that the baltic amber has a density close to the density of widely used plastics — such as polyamide, polystyrene or nylon — oceanologists decided to study the «solar stone» migration principles. The Federal agency for scientific organizations (FASO) reports that the study was carried out within a project supported by the Russian Science Foundation. It is known that Baltic Sea «throws» amber in the form of compact spots. Scientists have not yet learned to predict their location.

The researchers collected and analyzed all available information on the amber`s behavior in the coastal zone of the Baltic Sea — from historical evidence of mass casts to the Baltic coast to the catchers experience. This made it possible to identify the meteorological and hydrophysical factors that determine the location and time of the stone throws. Now scientists can predict the behavior of a microplastic with similar dimensions and shape.

The research results are published in Environmental Pollution and presented at the Baltic Sea Science Congress which was held in June 12-16, 2017 in Germany.

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