Published:  02:22 PM, 01 December 2019

Microplastics ‘ubiquitous’ in European rivers

Microplastics ‘ubiquitous’ in European rivers

Microplastics have been found to be omnipresent in rivers across Europe. 

Scientists found pieces measuring less than five millimetres in all water samples collected from nine major European rivers between May and November, reports Euro News.

The project was led by the Tara Ocean Foundation in partnership with 16 laboratories and coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

Jean-François Ghiglione, a French centre researcher who was the scientific director of the mission, said the first observation sheds new light on our vision of plastic pollution at sea.

"We’ve long thought that the transformation of plastics into microplastics took place at sea, under the effect of the sun and waves. In fact, the process also seems to occur in rivers and their watershed," Ghiglione said.

The team collected 2,700 samples from 45 sites on the Thames, Elbe, Rhine, Seine, Ebro, Rhone, Tiber, Garonne, and Loire rivers.

The samples will now be used to determine the quantities of waste.

Microplastics can come from microbeads in cosmetics and toothpaste or from fragmented plastics. The tiny plastics often absorb pollutants and become highly toxic. Scientists said the samples validated their hypothesis about the ubiquity of microplastics in European rivers.

A recent report from Project Mediterranean noted that the level of microplastics is rising in the Mediterranean Sea. The World Health Organisation also warned in August that microplastics are in drinking water as well.

The Tara Ocean Foundation says recycling plastic and reducing the additives in manufacturing plastic are methods of tackling the problem.

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