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Microfibers can cause food poisoning

Bacteria latch onto the microfibers from plastic pollution, textile industry waste and fishing.

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Young woman suffering from stomach pain. Pretty girl has food poisoning with hands on belly, isolated on yellow background. Studio shot
(Maples Images via Shutterstock)

By Pol Allingham via SWNS

Microfibers discovered in the Mediterranean Sea cause food poisoning in humans, according to new research.

Bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus that lives on the waste could make bathing in and eating seafood from the Med dangerous.

A new PLOS ONE study demonstrated the quantity of persistent plastic waste in the environment could be transporting dangerous pollutants and bacteria across oceans, threatening aquatic ecosystems and human health.

Around 200 species of bacteria latch onto the microfibres from plastic pollution, textile industry waste and fishing activity in the Med.

A dramatic increase in the three waste sources means microfibers are becoming the most common type of particle in the sea.

Microfibres discovered in the Mediterranean Sea cause food poisoning in humans, according to new research. (Pedrotti et al via SWNS)

Marine organisms have begun eating these microfibers because the colonizing bacteria makes them smell like food.

As the microfibres build up in marine life they are passed through the food chain to humans.

Sorbonne University researchers in Paris used advanced microscopy techniques and DNA sequencing to identify the microorganisms colonizing microfibers from the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, near the Spanish, French and Italian coastlines.

The team revealed on average over 2,600 cells live on each microfiber, belonging to 195 bacterial species.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes potentially dangerous food poisoning and was identified as one of the bacteria.

The study is the first to report Vibrio species are present in the Mediterranean Sea and researchers have stated the discovery is essential for assessing health risks.

The report highlights the environmental risk of microfibers and the team suggested short-lived natural particles such as wood or sediments do not carry the same threats.

Maria Luiza Pedrotti from Sorbonne University said: “The role of climate change also has an influence on the spread of this potentially pathogenic bacteria.

“Studies have shown that temperature has a significant correlation with the increase of Vibrio spp and the emergence of infections.

“At the time we found this vibrio, coastal summer temperatures ranged from 25.2-26.5°C, while this year, at the same location, they reached 29°C.”

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