Fish have been found to have been swallowing plastic since the 1950s

Scientists at Loyola University of Chicago used museum collections to study intestines

freshwater fish over the past century.The study found that fish have been ingesting plastic waste for decades since 1950. In addition, the concentration in their digestive tracts has increased dramatically in recent times.

What is microplastics?These are small particles of plastic of any kind, the marking does not matter. In 2004, marine biologist Richard Thompson identified plastic pieces no larger than 5 mm in a separate category.

To make it clearer, imagine a handful of beads:small, plastic, multi-colored. If you scatter it around the room, then most likely you will not collect all the beads, they will remain in the cracks behind the furniture. So it is with microplastics - it cannot be separated from water, soil, air. Particles of the finest fraction do not lend themselves to filtration.

Microplastics pollute our environment, itthe final stop - organisms of humans, animals, fish, birds, insects. Through them, it can be transmitted to humans. The problem of environmental pollution with microplastics has become urgent right now, because before that its amount did not cause concern. Now it has accumulated and has become the cause of invisible but dangerous pollution. However, the authors of the new study wanted to understand how microplastics have accumulated over the past century. They used specimens of fish from the Chicago Field Museum. There, 2 million samples are stored in alcohol and in an underground collection.

Biologists have focused on four speciesfish: bigmouth bass, channel catfish, sandstones and round gobies. Life records for these species date back to the period from 2017 to 1900. Scientists also collected fresh samples of the same species of animals for study.

Researchers used scalpels and tweezers toexcision of the digestive tract, and then treated with hydrogen peroxide. It destroys all organic matter, but leaves behind any potential plastics.

Scientists have used microscopes toidentify materials with suspiciously smooth edges that may indicate microplastics. Then, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Toronto, the scientists confirmed their chemical signatures using Raman spectroscopy.

Plastics were not detected until the middlelast century. The amount of microplastics in the intestines of the studied fish rose sharply with the rise in plastic production in the middle of the last century, starting in the 1950s.

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Raman spectroscopy is a type of spectroscopy, which is based on the ability of the studied systems to inelastic scattering of monochromatic light.