An FAO study finds that more than 100 commercial seafood species ingest microplastic, which can be contaminated with toxins. More worrying are the unknown health effects of even smaller nanoplastics.

There’s an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, most of it broken up into bits smaller than the nail on your pinkie finger. Marine animals eat this plastic when they mistake it for fish eggs, plankton and algae. And so do people when they slurp down oysters, consume crab or eat other types of fish and shellfish, according to the latest research on the presence of plastic in fisheries and aquaculture issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The report’s authors wrote that 121 commercially important seafood species are known to ingest tiny bits of plastic, called microplastic, yet the implications for human and ecosystem health is not well understood. The scientists are even more concerned about the tiniest pieces of microplastic, called nanoplastic, that are not visible to the eye and which fish and shellfish, and ultimately humans, also consume.

“Larger particles are not absorbed and will leave the gut,” said Peter Hollman, an expert on plastics in the food chain and one of the report’s three authors. “The particles smaller than 150 nanometers may be absorbed across the gut epithelium and may cause effects in the body. However, toxicological data on these effects are largely lacking.” Continue reading here