Norwegian researchers surprised by toxicity in standard plastic products

December 21, 2023 – The use of plastics has led to a huge amount of plastic litter in the marine ecosystem. Plastic pollution is not only a threat in itself, but can also pose additional danger due to the presence of chemical additives added during production. What’s worse: microplastics or the chemicals?

The MicroLEACH project is investigating the long-term effects of microplastics and their additives on organisms in the Norwegian marine environment. The results show that both plastics and rubber leach several substances that are toxic to small, naturally occurring organisms. The researchers were even surprised by the toxicity levels in standard plastic products. In this research, experiments were carried out with marine microorganisms such as bacteria and algae, as well as with cod embryos and larvae. While some chemicals caused the death of these organisms, others resulted in physical effects such as deformities of the vertebrae (cod larvae).

The MicroLEACH project is led by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) with the support of partners from key environmental institutes from Norway (SINTEF), the Netherlands (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), United Kingdom (University of Plymouth) and Australia (University of Queensland). The knowledge obtained within this project will provide a basis for the future development of regulatory guidelines to address the potential threats of microplastics and their additives at national, international and global levels.

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