Microplastics

Microplastics are a burning issue worldwide, but limited information is available on the presence, concentration and toxicity of these small plastic particles in African ecosystems.

 Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than 5 mm in size and include items such as plastic pellets, fragments, microfibers and microbeads. Microplastics can be found almost everywhere and, with the increasing plastic load into the environment, there is a growing concern about the effects of plastic and microplastic pollution on the environment, as well as the potential consequent impacts on human health.

Pellets
Fragments
Microfibres
Microbeads

SST, through its African Marine Waste Network programme, is investigating the presence of microplastic related pollutants and contaminants in marine and riverine organisms in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth. 

E

 For our proof of concept study, we selected an oyster species, which is a low trophic level marine invertebrate, and is a prey item for predators, such as fish, but also a delicacy to humans. 

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These samples were sent to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology for analyses. The results confirmed the presence of pollutants in low concentrations and therefore we will continue with the study to investigate pollutants in other marine organisms.

A volunteer pre-weighing a tube to ascertain its weigh

Pre-washing the equipment to avoid contamination.

Almost ready for shipment to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Through collaboration, we plan to roll this project out into Africa, with the aim to investigate species from different levels of the food web, especially focusing on important fish species often consumed by humans.

 

Since our office relocation in November 2019, we have been setting up a sample preparation lab, where we will be able to process our own samples from April 2020.

For more information, please contact Amarein at amarein@sstafrica.org.za