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Microplastics lodge in crab gills and guts

Marine creatures absorb plastic particles not only through food but via respiration

12:51pm, July 8, 2014

PERISHABLE PLASTIC  Shore crabs can trap microplastic pollution in their gills, a lab study finds. 

Crabs sop up microplastic pollution via their food and gills, researchers have found in a laboratory study. The tiny particles can lodge in the crustaceans’ bodies for weeks. Crabs become the first marine creature known to trap microplastics in their respiratory systems.

Previous studies had looked at how plastics affect marine organisms through their diet but not through what they breathe. “For a marine crustacean to actually uptake microplastics through respiration and then retain them in the gills — that’s groundbreaking,” says environmental marine biologist Phillip Cowie of the University of Glasgow.

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