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An example of how microplastics could end up on a consumer's plate

The ingestion of marine debris carrying these concentrated toxins has potential to bioaccumulate up the food chain and enter the human diet. However, although there is evidence of the harmful impacts of these chemicals on marine biota and human health (in men, women and children), there is uncertainty regarding their bioavailability once ingested. There is little research yet available on gender- differentiated effects of these secondary chemicals that are transferred up the food chain to humans along with the microbeads. Bouwmeester et al. (2015) conclude that, from available evidence, the dietary intake of POPs and other additives adhering to marine microplastics will constitute a minor component of exposure to these contaminants compared to other exposure pathways (such as ingestion of crops treated with herbicide, burning of waste, chemical fires and industrial exposure).

Year: 2016

From collection: Marine Litter Vital Graphics

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal and Maphoto/Riccardo Pravettoni

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