In an article published on September 24, 2015 by the news provider SF Gate, journalist Steve Rubenstein reports on a new study that found synthetic clothing fibers and plastic debris in fish intended for human consumption. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports and conducted by researchers Chelsea M. Rochman and colleagues from the University of California, Davis, U.S., and the University of Hasanuddin, Indonesia. The researchers bought locally-caught fish from markets in California, U.S., and Makassar, Indonesia, and dissected their guts in the laboratory. Anthropogenic debris was found in 25% of the U.S. fish and in 28% of the Indonesian fish. All of the debris found in Indonesian fish was plastic, whereas the debris found in U.S. fish was mainly synthetic textile fibers. The researchers suggest that the “variations in debris types likely reflect different sources and waste management strategies between countries.” Plastic debris in Indonesian fish is likely to originate from plastic items, such as plastic bottles, discarded unprocessed into rivers and the ocean. Synthetic textile fibers detected in U.S. fish are expected to be discharged from washing machines and to remain in wastewater effluent. As the debris was found in the fishes’ intestines, the researchers emphasize that humans are likely to ingest the debris only if the fish is eaten whole. Migration of chemicals from the debris into tissue was not investigated in this study.
Steve Rubenstein (September 24, 2015). “Hey waiter, this fish tastes like plastic!” SF Gate
UC Davis (September 24, 2015). “Plastic for dinner: A quarter of fish sold at markets contain man-made debris.”
Rochman, C.M. et al. (2015). “Anthropogenic debris in seafood: Plastic debris and fibers from textiles in fish and bivalves sold for human consumption.” Scientific Reports 5:14340.