Some microplastics are so small people can swallow them...https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230103-how-plastic-is-getting-into-our-food#:~:text=%22Our%20research%20shows%20that%20we,at%20Hull%20York%20Medical%20School.

Aquatic system microplastics accumulate dangerous bacteria – study

Bacteria includes those resistant to 3 or more classes of different antibiotics

Microplastics in aquatic systems have been found to accumulate dangerous bacteria resistant to antibiotics, says a study released today by the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC).

The research, authored by Isabel Silva, a PhD student in Biosciences at the Department of Life Sciences of FCTUC, shows “that the type of plastic influences the number and characteristics of the bacteria that adhere to these particles”.

On the basis that microplastics are now ubiquitous, concerns obviously centre on the possibility that they could be conduits for serious infections. 

Through a statement from FCTUC, Silva says it has been possible to detect “potentially pathogenic bacteria included in the World Health Organization’s priority list, that were multi-resistant, i.e. resistant to three or more classes of different antibiotics, and with worrying virulence characteristics.

“Most of these bacteria were detected in microplastics exposed to wastewater discharges, demonstrating once again the contribution of these discharges to the evolution of the problem of antibiotic resistance,” she said.

“Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contribute significantly to reducing the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in final effluent, but unfortunately, the available treatment processes are not effective enough to eliminate the impact we observed in this study”

The results, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, show that different types of microplastics carry pathogenic/ multidrug-resistant bacteria. In other words, ‘in a more perfect world’ future choices should be made on the types of plastics most commonly used.

Coordinated by Isabel Henriques, professor at DCV and researcher at the Centre for Functional Ecology (CFE) of the FCTUC, and Marta Tacão, assistant researcher at the Centre for Environment and Sea Studies at the University of Aveiro, the study also included the participation of CFE researcher Elsa Rodrigues.

Source material: LUSA