It is estimated that there are currently 150 million tons of plastics in the oceans, and that by 2050 they could reach 850 million tons, when more plastic is expected to be available than fish in the ocean. CIMA - Center for Marine and Environmental Research of UAlg, aware of this serious problem, is carrying out several research on the effect of microplastics on bivalve molluscs, and recently published the latest findings in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science (FMARS). "


This publication was the result of a collaboration with the University of Antwerp in Belgium and the Man-Technology-Environment Research Center (MTM) of the University of Orebo, Sweden.

Held under the JPI Oceans EPHEMARE project, research focuses on the ecotoxicological effects of microplastics with other contaminants (petroleum components, tanning agent components) absorbed in marine ecosystems. Microplastics are plastics smaller than 5 millimeters, which result from the degradation of plastic in the ocean.

In the now published article it was concluded that microplastics have an inflammatory effect on the species studied and are also a source of contamination with other contaminants such as those derived from hydrocarbons to marine organisms.

It should be noted that in an article published in 2017 in the magazine Marine Pollution Bulletin by the CIMA team, in collaboration with researchers from the Molecular Chemistry-Physics Center and the Institute of Nanosciences and Nanotechnology of the Instituto Superior Técnico, that these bivalves can accumulate microplastics in their tissues. This accumulation gives rise to oxidative stress, neurological and genetic effects. Even after exposure to microplastics is complete, the total elimination of the tissues of these bivalves takes more than a week, indicating that these accumulated microplastics can be transferred to higher trophic levels.

Reference of the article: "Ecotoxicological Effects of Chemical Contaminants Adsorbed to Microplastics in the Flat Scrobicularia Clam", Sarit O'Donovan, Nélia C. Mestre1, Serena Abel, Tainá G. Fonseca1, Camilla C. Carteny, Bettie Cormier, Steffen H. Keiter and Maria J. Bebianno. Fronteirs of Marine Science (doi: 10.3389 / fmars.2018.00143).