Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plastic waste is a hazard for subalpine lakes, too

Date:
October 7, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Many subalpine lakes may look beautiful and even pristine, but new evidence suggests they may also be contaminated with potentially hazardous plastics. Researchers say those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates too. The findings, based on studies of Italy's Lake Garda and reported on October 7th in Current Biology, suggest that the problem of plastic pollution isn't limited to the ocean.

This is an image of the freshwater crustacean D. magna. Fluorescent overview image showing fluorescent microplastic particles in the digestive tract.
Credit: Current Biology, Imhof et al.

Many subalpine lakes may look beautiful and even pristine, but new evidence suggests they may also be contaminated with potentially hazardous plastics. Researchers say those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates too.

The findings, based on studies of Italy's Lake Garda and reported on October 7th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, suggest that the problem of plastic pollution isn't limited to the ocean.

"Next to mechanical impairments of swallowed plastics mistaken as food, many plastic-associated chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting, or acutely toxic," said Christian Laforsch of the University of Bayreuth in Germany. "Moreover, the polymers can adsorb toxic hydrophobic organic pollutants and transport these compounds to otherwise less polluted habitats. Along this line, plastic debris can act as vector for alien species and diseases."

The researchers chose Lake Garda as a starting point for investigating freshwater contamination with micro- and macroplastics because they expected it to be less polluted given its subalpine location. What they found was a surprise: the numbers of microplastic particles in sediment samples from Lake Garda were similar to those found in studies of marine beach sediments.

The size ranges of microplastics found by Laforsch's team suggested that they might find their way into organisms living in the lake. Indeed, the researchers showed that freshwater invertebrates from worms to water fleas will ingest artificially ground fluorescent microplastics in the lab.

The findings in Lake Garda come as bad news for lakes generally, with uncertain ecological and economic consequences.

"The mere existence of microplastic particles in a subalpine headwater suggests an even higher relevance of plastic particles in lowland waters," Laforsch said. He recommends more research and standardized surveillance guidelines to control for microplastic contamination in freshwater ecosystems, as is already required for marine systems.

The public can do its part by putting trash where it belongs. The shape and type of plastic particles found in the study indicate that they started as larger pieces of plastic, most likely originating from post-consumer products.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hannes K. Imhof, Natalia P. Ivleva, Johannes Schmid, Reinhard Niessner and Christian Laforsch. Contamination of beach sediments of a subalpine lake with microplastic particles. Current Biology, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.09.001

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Plastic waste is a hazard for subalpine lakes, too." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007122539.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, October 7). Plastic waste is a hazard for subalpine lakes, too. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007122539.htm
Cell Press. "Plastic waste is a hazard for subalpine lakes, too." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007122539.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — California is the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery, liquor and convenience stores. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins