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Study: Microplastics Were in the Gut of Every Sea Turtle Tested

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

sea turtle ingests microplastic

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  • Every turtle tested, which included 102 turtles from all seven marine turtle species from three ocean basins (Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific), contained microplastics, at varying levels
  • Most abundant were plastic microfibers (most often blue or black in color), but fragments and microbeads were also detected, albeit in lesser quantities
  • Microfibers come from many sources, including shedding from synthetic fabrics, wear from automotive tires and degradation of cigarette filters and fishing nets and ropes
  • Once in the water, turtles may be exposed to microplastics via contaminated sea water, sediments or dietary sources

Every year, anywhere from 5 million to 12 million tons of plastic debris enter waterways worldwide, which equates to an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic. While some of this plastic is in the form of large debris like plastic bottles, six-pack rings and bags, much of it is in the form of tiny particles known as microplastics, which are less than 5 millimeters (mm) in size.

Microplastics can come from direct or “primary” sources, such as microbeads used in cosmetics or fibers used in clothing. They can also be secondary microplastics, meaning they’re the result of larger plastic items that have disintegrated due to exposure to waves, salt water, ultraviolet radiation and physical abrasion against shorelines.

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