Ockhi brought a surge of microplastics, says study

‘Fishes consume the particles, which in turn reach humans’

March 20, 2019 07:38 am | Updated 07:38 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Cyclone Ockhi which claimed more than 200 lives in Kerala and unleashed destruction of property in the coastal areas in 2017 has also led to a scourge of microplastics, a study conducted by the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, has revealed.

The study found that the cyclone had caused a heavy surge in microplastics in the Poonthura estuary surrounding Edayar Island at the merging point of the Karamana river with the Arabian Sea.

The blow of wind and the concomitant showers carried a large quantity of plastic materials into the river.

Microfibres shredded from synthetic clothes and abandoned fishing nets constituted the major share of the microplastic pollution, the study says.

Through food chain

Fishes consume the sediment-coated microplastic particles that consequently reach other living beings, including humans, through the food chain, said the study by Vinuja S., an M.Phil. student at the department.

It was adjudged the best oral presentation at a two-day national seminar on the Environmental Status of Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystems in India (ECEI-2019) organised by the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kerala, last week.

Samples from 8 spots

The study guided by Akhila S. Nair and Kurian Mathew Abraham investigated the prevalence of microplastics in the estuarine waters surrounding Edayar Island. Sediment samples from eight spots, water from six locations and fish from the fish landing sites were collected for analysis.

The achievement fetched Ms. Vinuja free membership for three years in the International Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association.

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