Plastic Pollution

Scallops seasoned with nanoplastics

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Science  04 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6422, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6422.40-e

The great scallop (Pecten maximus) reveals details about the uptake of nanoplastics by marine organisms.


Microplastics are present in marine environments worldwide. As these particles break down further, they form nanoplastics, which are harder to detect. Nanoplastics also can enter the environment directly from commercial products such as paints and cosmetics. Al-Sid-Cheikh et al. investigate the uptake of such nanoplastics by scallops at predicted environmental concentrations. The authors use radiocarbon labeling to track the nanoplastics within the scallop tissues. Uptake differs depending on particle size: Larger nanoparticles accumulate in the intestine, whereas smaller nanoparticles are dispersed through the entire scallop body. After exposure to nanoplastics ceased, smaller nanoparticles were no longer detected after 14 days, but some larger nanoparticles persisted for more than 48 days. The presence of the smaller nanoparticles in muscle tissue suggests that the particles can cross epithelial membranes.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 14480 (2018).

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