Sea bass excrete the microplastic they ingest

Sea bass excrete the microplastic they ingest

06.09.2020

A research team from the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), has come to a surprising conclusion after carrying out a laboratory study, namely that sea bass excrete almost all the microplastic particles they ingest with their food. As a result, the experts regard the eating of fish fillets to be entirely safe.

It is common knowledge that fish consume microplastic particles with their food. The AWI research team has now examined for the first time in a laboratory study how many of the ingested plastic particles get from the intestine of young sea bass into the bloodstream and from there into the muscle meat. The question is of enormous relevance for people who like eating fish, because they do not as a rule eat the entire fish but only the fillet.
To carry out the tests, the research team fed the fish over a period of 16 weeks with food containing an extremely large number of microplastic particles – fluorescent particles with a diameter between one and five micrometers – and tested how many particles they could find in the meat of the fish. The result was that, despite the extremely large quantity fed to them – considerably more than in real life – they found only one or two particles per 5 g of fillet. Furthermore, the fish seemed to them to be healthy and well developed. The authors of the study, which was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, assume that the fish efficiently separate off the particles and can then excrete them. Furthermore, with so few particles actually found, it cannot be excluded that they did not actually get into the fish meat itself, but were in the residual blood of the meat. Although the initial indications were that particles could get from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, how they do so has not yet been fully researched and is to be established in further tests.
Basically, the AWI experts interpret their finding by saying that eating fish fillet is completely safe for humans, even if the fish are exposed to a high concentration of microplastic particles in the sea.
More information: Original publication "Quantifying microplastic translocation from feed to the fillet in European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax"
Sources:
    • www.awi.de (20 July 2020)
    • Photo: @ AWI

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