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posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 20, @04:02PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nanoplastics-for-every-organism dept.

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that lettuce can take up nanoplastics from the soil and transfer them into the food chain:

The concern about plastic pollution has become widespread after it was realised that mismanaged plastics in the environment break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics and nanoplastics. It is likely that nanoplastics, due to their small size, can pass through physiological barriers and enter organisms.

Despite the growing body of evidence on the potential toxicity of nanoplastics to plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, our understanding of plastic transfer in food webs is limited. For instance, little is known about nanoplastics in soil ecosystems and their uptake by soil organisms, despite the fact that agricultural soil is potentially receiving nanoplastics from different sources such as atmospheric deposition, irrigation with wastewater, application of sewage sludge for agricultural purposes, and use of mulching film. [...]

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have developed a novel, metallic fingerprint-based technique to detect and measure nanoplastics in organisms and, in this new study, they applied it to a model food chain consisting of three trophic levels, i.e., lettuce as a primary producer, black soldier fly larvae as a primary consumer, and the insectivorous fish (roach) as a secondary consumer. The researchers used commonly found plastic waste in the environment, including polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) nanoplastics.

Lettuce plants were exposed to nanoplastics for 14 days via contaminated soil, after which they were harvested and fed to insects (black soldier fly larvae, which are used as a source of proteins in many countries). After five days of feeding with lettuce, the insects were fed to the fish for five days.

Using scanning electron microscopy, the researchers analysed the dissected plants, larvae and fish. The images showed that nanoplastics were taken up by the roots of the plants and accumulate in the leaves. Then, nanoplastics were transferred from the contaminated lettuce to the insects. [...] When the fish fed on the contaminated insects, particles were detected in the gills, liver and intestine tissues of the fish, whereas no particles were found in the brain tissue.

Journal Reference:
Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Sille Holm, Raine Kortet, et al. Quantifying the trophic transfer of sub-micron plastics in an assembled food chain [open]. Nano Today, 46, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.nantod.2022.101611


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  • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Tuesday September 20, @05:50PM (10 children)

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @05:50PM (#1272598) Journal

    Give me a McToilets Big Mackintosh with a side order of Wellies.

    Sheeeit, muhf*ck.

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday September 20, @06:37PM (9 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @06:37PM (#1272611)

      I'm picturing future humans (and such animals and plants as survive with us) as these cheap FX house blobby aliens, tissues all bloated up full of crap that isn't quite killing us but neither can we really get rid of it either.

      People who live their whole lives in bubbles of filtered air and water and "clean food" might continue to resemble us, but they might also be setting themselves up to require bubble life by not evolving to coexist with all the crap we're filling the environment with.

      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Tuesday September 20, @07:17PM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @07:17PM (#1272621) Journal

        I'm picturing Cheech & Chong Up In Smoke, but without all the intelligence...

        The Fall and Rise of Reginald Barren....

        Monty Python's Life of Dyin...

        The Dook, the Uncle Dad and the Fugly...

        Zombies and Walking Dead and Undead... Oh, myyyyyy.... (Oh, myyyyy, spoken as George Takei...poetry without notoriety...)

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @06:15PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @06:15PM (#1272832)

        Meanwhile I'm picturing a future where more and more organisms develop a way to digest plastics - especially in wet and warm places.

        Enough so that we might actually need to add/do stuff to plastic just like we do to wood so that it lasts longer in such environments.

        Long ago there weren't as many organisms that could digest lignin and even cellulose...

        Plastics have only been around for a short time and already some organisms are able to eat some types:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideonella_sakaiensis [wikipedia.org]
        https://news.stanford.edu/2019/12/19/mealworms-provide-plastic-solution/ [stanford.edu]

      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday September 21, @07:58PM (4 children)

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday September 21, @07:58PM (#1272857) Journal

        Have you seen the new Cronenberg movie? (that's basically the plot)

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday September 21, @08:25PM (3 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 21, @08:25PM (#1272864)

          We're getting to a, I wanted to say interesting but it's really more like an inflection point in the arts where there are so many millions of people engaged in writing stories, producing movies, etc. all with the same globally connected source of news and information that independently derived ideas are more likely than not to have already been developed into a book or movie somewhere...

          Are you referring to "Crimes of the Future" or "The Death of David Cronenberg"? or???

          This guy, right? David Cronenberg Known For: The Fly Gynecologist (1986)

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday September 21, @08:36PM (2 children)

            by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday September 21, @08:36PM (#1272871) Journal

            Yeah the new 'Crimes of the Future." (and I intended to post under the one about evolving to eat plastic)

            So multiple fails on that one!

  • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday September 20, @06:37PM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 20, @06:37PM (#1272612) Homepage Journal

    You mean this works just like mercury in the oceans? Little critters eat it, bigger critters get it when they eat the little critters, and then even bigger critters eat a bunch of smaller critters until the tuna fish are unsafe to eat? Who'da thunk such a thing!

    Oh yeah, you are what you eat.

    --
    Your private safe room in the back of your mind? Trump pooped in it.
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:00PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, @07:00PM (#1272617)

      I know you were being facetious, but it is confirming this exactly. It is no surprise that it works this way for something like mercury, but it hasn't been clear what this means for plastics. It was expected that microparticles less than about 100 nm could pass through cellular membranes, but I suppose this is really showing that it does. Unfortunately, we don't really know what effect these plastics have when they are able to penetrate inside of the cell. The larger particles were known to pass out of our systems, but these, who knows? Do they eventually get expelled, or do they accumulate, or do they just sort of diffuse through us like some kind of astral aether? And what do they do to our cells?

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @03:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @03:59AM (#1272687)

    Nature created us to manufacture plastics

    "The planet is fine, we're going away"

  • (Score: 0, Redundant) by Coligny on Wednesday September 21, @04:29AM

    by Coligny (2200) on Wednesday September 21, @04:29AM (#1272690)

    This is so stupidly obvious that it reeks of misused research funds…

    2 stoner got research monies and realize the day before that they have to submit a paper on… something…

    And…

    This happens…

    Let me guess… the Lancet ?

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