Toxins from plastic waste bioaccumulate in the fish we eat

It is well documented that sea creatures are eating plastic in the ocean. Many people have seen news stories about plastic being found in the stomachs of whales, sea turtles, fish, shellfish and many other animals in our ocean. When plastic is ingested by sea animals, it enters the food chain, and we are at the top of the food web.

Bioaccumulation is the process by which toxins accumulate or build up in an organism faster than they can be broken down. 

Biomagnification is the process by which toxins build up within predators. Toxins bioaccumulate in an organism. When a predator eats a lot of that type of organism, the toxins will biomagnify up the food chain. This process continues all the way up the food chain to humans. 

A big problem with plastic entering our food chain in the ocean is that plastic attracts and adsorbs toxins found in the water. When fish and seafood eat plastic, they are also ingesting these toxins, and the toxins can migrate into the flesh of the fish.

Plankton has been shown to eat microplastic in the form of microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic found in body care products. Watch this video.

Microplastics in mussels sampled from coastal waters and supermarkets in the United Kingdom

In a study in Environmental Pollution, microplastic and other anthropogenic debris was found in 100% of the mussels sampled from 8 locations around the UK coast, as well as samples taken from supermarkets. 0.7 to 2.9 items/g (1.1 to 6.4 items/mussel) were found in the coastal samples, and the supermarket samples varied from 0.9 items/g to 1.4 items/g.

Testing conducted on 136 samples found that 50% of the debris was microplastic, while 37% was made up of rayon and cotton fibres.