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Microplastics

Microplastics are a burning issue worldwide, but limited information is available on the presence, concentration and toxicity of these small plastic particles in African ecosystems.

 Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than 5 mm in size and include items such as plastic pellets, fragments, microfibers and microbeads. Microplastics can be found almost everywhere and, with the increasing plastic load into the environment, there is a growing concern about the effects of plastic and microplastic pollution on the environment, as well as the potential consequent impacts on human health.

Pellets
Fragments
Microfibres
Microbeads

SST, through its African Marine Waste Network programme, is investigating the presence of microplastic related pollutants and contaminants in marine and riverine organisms in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth. 

E

 For our proof of concept study, we selected an oyster species, which is a low trophic level marine invertebrate, and is a prey item for predators, such as fish, but also a delicacy to humans. 

E

These samples were sent to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology for analyses. The results confirmed the presence of pollutants in low concentrations and therefore we will continue with the study to investigate pollutants in other marine organisms.

A volunteer pre-weighing a tube to ascertain its weigh

Pre-washing the equipment to avoid contamination.

Almost ready for shipment to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Through collaboration, we plan to roll this project out into Africa, with the aim to investigate species from different levels of the food web, especially focusing on important fish species often consumed by humans.

 

Complete our Survey

In April 2019, we started an online public survey to continuously collect data on the public’s opinion about plastic pollution and microplastics. Please click the link below that will take you to the survey. We have received over 200 responses thus far and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

Plastic Pollution and Microplastics Survey

For more information, please contact Amarein at amarein@sstafrica.org.za