Engineers from the University of Notre Dame have, for the first time, shown nanoplastics occurring in waters around the world.
The team displayed images of these nanoplastics taken off the coasts of the US, South Korea, the Gulf of Mexico and China.
The research adds further weight to the evidence of the negative impact of these plastics on our oceans. However, it has also shown that these plastics have some very interesting shapes and chemical properties. Nanoplastics are only thought to exist in very low concentrations in the oceans, and the team used an innovative bubble deposition technique to isolate them.
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.
According to University of Notre Dame Professor Tengfei Luo:
“Nanoplastics are potentially more toxic than larger plastic particles. Their small size makes them better able to penetrate the tissues of living organisms. The nanoplastics we found in the ocean were distinctively different from laboratory-synthesized ones. Understanding the shape and chemistry of the actual nanoplastics is an essential first step in determining their toxicity and devising ways to mitigate it.”