Researchers from University of Hull and Brunel University London have demonstrated microplastic contamination of UK coastal waters to be ‘significant and widespread’. The study, which is published in the journal Environmental Pollution, sampled wild mussels from eight coastal locations (Edinburgh, Filey, two sites in Hastings, Brighton, Plymouth, Cardiff and Wallasey) and globally farmed mussels from eight unnamed supermarkets. One hundred per cent of samples were found to contain debris from human activity.
The results demonstrated that eating 100 grams of the shellfish would lead to the consumption of an estimated 70 pieces of debris. Around half of the substances found were microplastics such as polyester and polythene, and 37 per cent was other material such as cotton and rayon.
Professor Jeanette Rotchell, of the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull said, "It is becoming increasingly evident that global contamination of the marine environment by microplastic is impacting wildlife and its entry into the food chain is providing a pathway for the waste that we dispose of to be returned to us through our diet”
Further studies are necessary to confirm whether or not such a level of contamination may be harmful to humans consuming the shellfish.