It’s been calculated that something in the order of four to 12 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, mostly through rivers.
She says understanding how plastic gets into fish matters not just to the fish, but to us. “We eat fish that eat plastic,” she says. “Are there things that transfer to the tissue? Does the plastic itself transfer to the tissue? Do the chemicals associated with the plastic transfer to the tissue?”
“The implications are obvious and severe,” said Jim Elliott, director of the Center for Birds of Prey, about the discovery of the repellents and retardants in all 27 birds sampled among eagles, hawks and owls. “Who’s next on the (food chain) ladder? It’s us.”
The fibers “get enmeshed in their G-I [gastrointestinal] tracts,” where they can pose physical and physiological hazards, explained Laura Kammin, pollution prevention specialist with the Ilinois-Indiana Sea Grant who worked with Mason on the study that documented fibers in Lake Michigan waters.