A joint study of universities from Manchester and Utrecht showed that flows after precipitation transfer microplastics to the depths of the oceans. This will make it possible to understand how plastic particles affect marine organisms.
The study showed that the largest flows on Earth can carry microplastics for tens of kilometers. These data can help predict the location of future “congestion points” of microplastics. This, in turn, can show how these small particles affect marine life.
Researchers noted that more than 10 million tons of plastic are thrown into the oceans annually. It is estimated that about 99% of them are located in deep-sea areas, often accumulating in underwater canyons. However, it was previously unknown how microplastics can enter the seas and oceans from land. New studies have shown in detail that microplastics can also move in streams after precipitation.
The distribution of different types of plastic on the seabed is important because the size and type of plastic particles determines how toxins accumulate on the surface. In addition, it is now possible to calculate the probability of which animals can accumulate particles of this plastic in themselves and how this affects their body.
The next stages of research will include sampling and monitoring of deep-sea submarine canyons. So scientists want to understand how their research can be applied to underwater natural systems and their impact on deep-sea ecosystems.
Previously, researchers were able to find out that plastic thrown into the environment breaks up into smaller and smaller fragments, called microplastics, if its dimensions are less than five millimeters. Microplastics are widespread in the environment and are absorbed by animals at all levels of the food web: from the smallest organisms up to the summit predators, including humans. So it was discovered that from brewing one tea bag up to 15 billion microplastic particles get into the human body.