Plastics became widespread after the second World War, and as a material, plastic is still relatively young. Microscopic plastic particles, or microplastics, have caught the eye of researchers only quite recently. Microplastics come with plenty of questions, but for the time being, only few answers are available.
“Microplastics are a Pandora’s Box of a kind, or at least an infinite source of research questions. However, research evidence relating to microplastics and their effects remains scarce,” says Researcher Samuel Hartikainen from the University of Eastern Finland. His research focuses on the chemical properties of microplastics.
Whirlpools of plastics and microplastics in oceans have received plenty of attention in the media. However, microplastic concentrations in lakes and other closed bodies of water may be higher than in oceans, where the water flows freely.
“Microplastics are present in practically all bodies of water, although the remotest ones haven’t been scientifically studies, of course. We can nevertheless assume that airborne microplastics have found their way also in these waters,” says Research Manager Arto Koistinen, who also studies microplastics chemistry.
Microscopic particles of plastic have also been found in the intestines of fish and other seafood. Microplastics aren’t poisonous as such, but they are known to absorb hormone disruptors and heavy metals. So, can microplastics find their way on our plates, and can hazardous materials absorbed by microplastics make our food poisonous?