Plastic accounts for nearly eighty percent of all waste found in our oceans. “We tested how polystyrene plastic particles of different sizes, change and surface affect the zooplankton Daphnia,” says Karin Mattsson. The scientists found as a result that the size of the nanoparticles that were the most toxic to the Daphnia was 50 nanometers. After studying this, the scientists went on to study the effects of these nano sized plastics on other aquatic animals which are higher up the food chain. They found that the fish that ate Daphnia containing nano plastics experienced a change in their predatory beavhior and poor appetite. In several other studies, scientists found that the nanoparticles had the ability to cross biological barriers, such as the intestinal wall and brain.
They found that plastic breaks down very slowly in nature, and once the microscopically small particles of plastic reach lakes and oceans, they are difficult to remove.
“Our research indicates the need for more studies and increased caution in the use of nano plastics,” she says.