Microplastics and human health: FSU researchers find exposure to microplastics may alter cellular function

Pollution from miniscule pieces of plastic, or microplastics, have been a growing concern for scientists, public health advocates and environmentalists as these nondegradable items have increasingly made their way into waterways and even the air we breathe. Now, scientists are showing that they might be altering cellular function.

Microplastic Sizes in Hudson-Raritan Estuary and Coastal Ocean Revealed

Rutgers scientists for the first time have pinpointed the sizes of microplastics from a highly urbanized estuarine and coastal system with numerous sources of fresh water, including the Hudson River and Raritan River. Their study of tiny pieces of plastic in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary in New Jersey and New York indicates that stormwater could be an important source of the plastic pollution that plagues oceans, bays, rivers and other waters and threatens aquatic and other life.

Study First to Tally Biomass from Oceanic Plastic Debris Using Visualization Method

Scientists examined cell abundances, size, cellular carbon mass, and how photosynthetic cells differ on polymeric and glass substrates over time, exploring nanoparticle generation from plastic like polystyrene and how this might disrupt microalgae. Conservative estimates suggest that about 1 percent of microbial cells in the ocean surface microlayer inhabit plastic debris globally. This mass of cells would not exist without plastic debris in the ocean, and thus, represents a disruption of the proportions of native flora in that habitat.

Seafood Products Made From Cells Should be Labeled Cell-Based

Companies seeking to commercialize seafood products made from the cells of fish or shellfish should use the term “cell-based” on product labels, according to a Rutgers study – the first of its kind – in the Journal of Food Science. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture require food products to have a “common or usual name” on their labels so consumers can make informed choices about what they’re purchasing.