Study into Microplastics Entering the Marine Food Chain

VIDEO: Impact of Micro Plastic Waste on Oregon’s Shell Fish

The impact of extremely small particles of waste plastics on Razor Clams and Oysters along the Oregon coast is being investigated by researchers at Portland State University.

Image © Oregon Sea Grant

The impact of extremely small particles of waste plastics on Razor Clams and Oysters along the Oregon coast is being investigated by researchers at Portland State University.

To conduct the research the group has secured funding from Oregon Sea Grant - one of 33 state programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Sea Grant College Program, which is funded by federal and state appropriations, as well as project-specific contributions from local governments and industry. 

The researchers explained that the microplastics can come from a number of sources including foams, tiny beads in facial creams, fibres from clothing, and disintegrating plastic bags.

The project aims to see if there are specific places on the coast where microplastics are more prevalent and if their presence is more common during certain times of the year.

The research is conducted by marine ecologist Elise Granek and master's student Britta Baechler.

“Our goal is to figure out if we have them {microplastics} in our oysters and clams and if so whether they’re at problematic levels,” Baechler. We’re also trying to determine not only the concentrations but also the type of plastics that are in razor clams and oysters.”

In terms of types of microplastics there are several different categories that a lot of studies have put them into,” she continued. “You can have fibres, which are the most common – those enter the environment through laundry and clothing. Another category is fragements - large fragments degrade into small fragments.”

A video explaining the work being carried out can be viewed below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpmZbkWGayA

A photo gallery of the research can be found HERE

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