In an article published on September 12, 2019 in online magazine Mother Jones, reporter Liza Gross presents a review of microplastic contamination in fish and its development over time. The article explains that microplastic particles first became noticed by biologists half a century ago when they were seen inside of plankton and seaweed samples. In 1972, North Atlantic Ocean surface waters measured 3,500 particles per square kilometer, and in 1997 concentrations were found to peak at 580,000 particles per square kilometer. As concerns regarding microplastics in fish began to increase, many are reported to have thought removing the guts of a fish would prevent human exposure to the particles through consumption. However, the article explains that scientific studies began to find that the particles also moved into fish organs and some into their flesh. “Plastic is now part of our food system,” says Kieran Cox, lead author of a recent study investigating the human consumption of microplastics.
The article notes that it is still largely unknown exactly how humans are affected by ingesting microplastic particles. Persistent chemical pollutants in the environment have been found to adhere to the surfaces of microplastics traveling through oceans, and questions have also come up about the vast array of chemicals intentionally added into plastic food packaging. Researchers interviewed for the article are hesitant to recommend we stop eating fish, and they point to bottled water as the currently largest known source of microplastics in our diet.
Liza Gross (September 12, 2019). “Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic.” Mother Jones