Polluted Tejo’s cockles and clams “taste of plastic”

For now it is not universally recognised but a scientific study has confirmed that clams and cockles harvested from the Tejo estuary contain the whiff of microplastics, “like acrylic that comes from the washing or remains of clothing”.

The discovery is new evidence of the levels of pollution in the country’s longest river.

The microplastics have entered the food chain, stresses Lusa, as humans and birds consume bivalves in abundance.

The study, to be published in the December edition of journal Environmental Pollution, was undertaken by researchers at the science faculties of the University of Lisbon and the New University of Lisbon.

It identified acrylic as the most commonly found plastic in Tejo sediment on which bivalves feed, but also detected polystyrene and what it calls “regenerated celluloses”.

All the materials come from clothing, explains Lusa. They make it into the river from domestic waste systems which carry water from washing machines, etc.

This is just one aspect of ‘pollution’ in the Tejo which further upstream is in crisis (click here).

The Pro-Tejo movement, which has been desperately sounding alerts about the river’s vulnerability, is holding its 3rd major demo next month, in Lisbon, with a march from Praça Duque da Terceira at Cais do Sodré to Terreiro do Paço.

For more information, see Pro Tejo’s Facebook page.

Much of the pollution has been blamed on Spain, but the discharge of chemicals by factories at Vila Velha de Ródão on national territory has also been cited for the “eutrophication” of the waters (excessive richness of nutrients) which has left the surface thick with green algae, meaning light cannot penetrate, and life forms below slowly die.

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