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 August 30, 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 August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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