Study is the first to quantify the uptake of nanoparticles at predicted environmentally relevant conditions.
A ground-breaking study has shown it takes a matter of hours for billions of minute plastic nanoparticles to become embedded throughout the major organs of a marine organism. The research, led by the University of Plymouth, examined the uptake of nanoparticles by a commercially important mollusc, the great scallop (Pecten maximus).
After six hours exposure in the laboratory, billions of particles measuring 250nm (around 0.00025mm) had accumulated within the scallop’s intestines. However, considerably more even smaller particles measuring 20nm (0.00002mm) had become dispersed throughout the body including the kidney, gill, muscle and other organs.
The study is the first to quantify the uptake of nanoparticles at predicted environmentally relevant conditions, with previous research having been conducted at far higher concentrations than scientists believe are found in our oceans.
Dr Maya Al Sid Cheikh, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, led the study. She said: “For this experiment, we needed to develop an entirely novel scientific approach. We made nanoparticles of plastic in our laboratories and incorporated a label so that we could trace the particles in the body of the scallop at environmentally relevant concentrations. The results of the study show for the first time that nanoparticles can be rapidly taken up by a marine organism, and that in just a few hours they become distributed across most of the major organs.”
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