Most commonly used mussel species are full of microplastics

A new study from the University of Bayreuth has proven that the statement “if you eat mussels, you eat microplastics” is true worldwide. Scientists present their findings in the journal Environmental Pollution.

The researchers used four types of mussels: European blue mussel, green mussel, wavy venus, and Pacific venus. All selected mussels were purchased from grocery stores. Some of them were grown on farms, and some were taken from the North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, and the Gulf of Thailand.

Researchers have found a total of nine different types of plastic in mussels. Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) were the most common. Both plastics are used in the daily life of people around the world. To compare mussels of different sizes, one gram of mussel meat was used as a fixed reference.

According to research, one gram of mussel meat contains between 0.13 and 2.45 microplastic particles—the most contaminated samples of mussels from the North Atlantic and the South Pacific. Since mussels filter microplastic particles from the water in addition to food particles, the microplastic examination of mussels allows indirect conclusions about contamination in their respective areas of origin.

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