Microplastics – Environmental vs Trophic Baleen Whale Exposure Examined

The abstract of a November 22, 2021, Science of The Total Environment study https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151815 by researchers with the New Zealand University of Auckland, Netherlands Leiden University and UK University of Exeter reports that “… Large filter-feeding animals are potential sentinels for understanding the extent of microplastic pollution … there is considerable uncertainty about the total and mode of exposure (environmental vs trophic). Here, we explore microplastic exposure and ingestion by baleen whales feeding year-round in coastal Auckland waters … Plastic and DNA were extracted concurrently from whale scat … we find that the total exposure is four orders of magnitude more than expected from microplastic measurements of local coastal surface waters. This suggests that trophic transfer, rather than environmental exposure, is the predominant mode of exposure of large filter feeders for microplastic pollution. Measuring plastic concentration from the environment alone significantly underestimates exposure levels, an important consideration for future risk assessment studies …” #PlasticWaste #SingleUsePlastic #MicroPlastics @AucklandUni @UniLeiden