Register for updates

 
 

Environment & Ecology
RSS Feed
Microplastics and Plastic Additives Discovered in Ascidians All Along Israel's Coastline
Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Tel Aviv University report is first to assess presence of plastic additives in Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea marine life

A new Tel Aviv University study finds that microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic ingested by aquatic life — are present in solitary ascidians all along the Israeli coastline. Ascidians are sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders. The research also confirmed the presence of plastic additives, i.e. "plasticizers," in ascidians. Plasticizers are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

The research was led by Prof. Noa Shenkar of the School of Zoology at TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and published in the January 2019 issue of Marine Pollution Bulletin. The study was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dror Avisar, Head of the Water Research Center at TAU's Faculty of Exact Sciences, and Aviv Kaplan, a postgraduate student in Prof. Avisar's TAU laboratory.

"This is the first study that examines plastic additive contamination in marine organisms in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea," says Gal Vered, co-author of the study and a PhD student in Prof. Shenkar's laboratory at TAU. "Solitary ascidians are highly efficient filter feeders and are excellent examples of the state of pollution that affects many other marine organisms. Our findings are extremely disturbing. Even in protected beaches, there was evidence of microplastics and plastic additives in ascidians. In fact, at every sampling site, we discovered varying levels of these pollutants."

"This is a direct result of human use of plastic," Prof. Shenkar says. "It may seem that plastic bags and bulky plastic products that we notice floating in the sea are the major problem. But a more important cause for concern is the fragmentation of these products into small particles that are then ingested by many organisms and reach even the deepest zones in the ocean."

The researchers developed a novel method for testing for additives in marine life. "Our new chemical analysis method can be used on a variety of soft-tissue marine organisms," Prof. Shenkar continues. "We can now extract phthalates, an additive that's used primarily to soften polyvinyl chloride, from organism tissues without contracting any background contamination from the laboratory equipment itself, which also has plastic components. This was a big challenge because the laboratory is actually a highly plastic 'contaminated' environment."

Some 350 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, and the number is rising. The research suggests that if plastic is found in ascidians, it is probably present in other sea creatures.

The researchers are currently preparing their results for policymakers interested in preventing further damage to Israel's coastline. They are also continuing to investigate the extent and effect of plastic pollution on the coral reef of Eilat.

"By communicating our results to the public, we hope to further enhance public awareness of the actions everyone can take to beat plastic pollution," Prof. Shenkar concludes.




Latest News

Genetically Encoded Sensor Isolates Hidden Leukemic Stem Cells

Cells express surface markers that help them escape most targeted therapies, TAU researchers say.

Be Nice to Your Doctor — You May Receive Better Care

Under most conditions, positive social interactions have beneficial implications for employee performance, say TAU researchers.

PCV Vaccine Leads to Steep Decline in Childhood Hospitalizations Due to Community-Acquired Bacteremia

Vaccine also decreased antibiotic resistance patterns, TAU researchers say.

Physicists Solve 35-Year-Old Mystery About Quarks

Number of proton-neutron pairs in an atom determines how fast particles move, say TAU, MIT, Thomas Jefferson researchers.

New Blood Test May Map Fetal Genome for Countless Mutations

Test could detect innumerable diseases caused by minuscule impairments in the fetal genome, TAU researchers say.

New Imaging Technology Captures Movement of Quantum Particles With Unprecedented Resolution

Method paves the way for ultrafast control and extreme spatiotemporal imaging of condensed matter, TAU researchers say.

Lightning's Electromagnetic Fields May Have Protective Properties

Extremely low frequency fields may have played an evolutionary role in living organisms, say TAU researchers.

Study Links Adult Fibromyalgia to Childhood Sexual Abuse

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions are an effective treatment, TAU researchers say.

Adolescents With Celiac Disease Are at Higher Risk of Eating Disorders

Overweight teenage girls with CD are at highest risk of developing early hallmarks of full-blown eating disorders, TAU researchers say.

White Blood Cells Related to Allergies and Asthma May Also Be Harnessed to Destroy Cancer Cells

Eosinophil immune cells are capable of killing colon cancer cells, TAU researchers say.

contentSecondary
c

© 2019 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University