A study from Portland State University has revealed that an overwhelming majority of shellfish from the Oregon Coast contain microplastics.
300 razor clams and oysters were taken for the study from 15 sites along the coast, ranging from Clatsop to Gold Beach. Only two of the specimens were free of microplastics, with the rest averaging 11 fibers each.
“Whether it was a fairly urban site or a rural site, estuary or open-coast beach, both species had microplastics,” said Prof. Elise Granek of PSU, according to Science Daily. “Although we think of the Oregon coast as a much more pristine coastline compared to California, Puget Sound or the Eastern Seaboard, when we are talking about microplastics, we’re still seeing that human footprint on even our more pristine coastline.”
While the fishing industry is often blamed for microplastic pollution, Granek says the source of the plastics is unclear. A likely culprit is synthetic textiles, used in activewear like yoga pants.
“These microfilaments can be shed from clothing, up to 700,000 per load of laundry,” said Britta Baechler, co-author of the study. “Those particles then travel out through greywater into wastewater and to the coast.”
The potential health effects of microplastics are also uncertain, both for humans and shellfish. According to Baechler, “If reproduction or growth is impaired, that could really affect not just individual clams or oysters, but possibly local populations of these organisms as well.”
By Brandon Urey