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Shellfish With a Side of Microplastics: Scientists Find More Plastic Pollution in Our Seafood

Source: NPR/Ken Christensen - September 22, 2017 in Adventure, Featured

Shellfish With a Side of Microplastics: Scientists Find More Plastic Pollution in Our Seafood
Photo: Alexander Baxevanis/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.

But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she’ll probably point out a bivalve’s gonads or remark on its fertility.

“These are comments I make at dinner parties,” she said. “I’ve spent too much time doing dissections. I’ve done too many spawnings.”

And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish.

In 2016, she and her students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles.

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