5-speed listening (Microplastics - Level 3)

Worries about microplastics in our seafood



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People who eat seafood may be also eating tiny pieces of plastic. The small pieces of plastic are called microplastics. They are tiny pieces of plastic from the waste and garbage that are in the seas and oceans. They are usually less than a millimeter wide. They are becoming more and more common in seafood such as oysters and mussels as well as other kinds of shellfish. Scientists say there are more than five trillion pieces of microplastic in our oceans. More and more are being added every day. Professor Richard Thompson, a marine biologist at Exeter University, said: "Hundreds of marine organisms encounter plastic at the sea surface or in the water…and many of those encounters are harmful if not fatal."

Researchers from the University of Ghent in Belgium conducted a study into microplastics and marine life. They believe people eat up to 11,000 pieces of plastic in their food each year. The researchers said that only around 60 of these pieces stay in our body and the rest will disappear down the toilet. Sixty pieces of microplastic may not seem a lot but it will build up over time. They could eventually be bad for our health. Things are likely to get worse. The researchers added that by the end of the century, seafood eaters could consume as many as 780,000 pieces of plastic a year. That is likely to cause many health problems. Scientists say we need to recycle more and find alternatives to plastic.

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