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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information, please contact Amarein at firstname.lastname@example.org