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Study: Microplastics in majority of Oregon shellfish

A Portland State University study found tiny pieces of plastic in the vast majority of razor clams and oysters sampled along the Oregon coast.

Posted: Nov 12, 2019 10:55 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland State University study found tiny pieces of plastic in the vast majority of razor clams and oysters sampled along the Oregon coast and noted that the primary source of contamination was from fibers used in synthetic textiles.

Those microscopic fibers can be shed by yoga pants, fleeces and other active wear made of synthetic textiles during a wash — up to 700,000 per load of laundry, according to the study, which was reported on Tuesday in The Oregonian/OregonLive. These fibers are in the wastewater from laundry machines that eventually winds up in the ocean, although some of the tiny plastic fibers could also come from derelict fishing gear, the newspaper said.

The shellfish in question were plucked from 15 sites, from Clatsop in the north to Gold Beach near the California border, in both the spring and summer of 2017. Of the roughly 300 shellfish analyzed, all but two contained at least some microplastics, Elise Granek, a PSU professor of environmental science and management, said.

The study was published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters.

"Whether it was a fairly urban site or a rural site, estuary or open-coast beach, both species had microplastics," she said. "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."

Study authors found an average of 11 pieces of microplastic in each specimen, with the foreign materials primarily consisting of microfibers as they go through washing machine cycles.

The fishing industry and oyster framers have often been scapegoated in the past for microplastic pollution, but Granek said there was no clear scientific consensus on the source of the fibers.

"It's not because people aren't managing our fisheries well or are being unclean in their practices," she said. "We're all using plastics on a daily basis. We are all the source of contamination in our seafood."

"Microplastics are not just in our seafood," she said. "We know that they are in our beer, in our salt, in our drinking water."

The impact of microplastics on shellfish health is another area where further research is needed. Some studies have shown that the presence of these foreign microfibers could impede growth or reproduction in shellfish.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40443

Reported Deaths: 635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8743155
Marion5590106
Washington546973
Umatilla329543
Clackamas299065
Lane221226
Malheur186634
Jackson15556
Deschutes107413
Yamhill95615
Linn76414
Polk63915
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50913
Union4582
Benton4186
Klamath4013
Wasco33515
Douglas3314
Hood River2721
Josephine2583
Columbia2491
Clatsop2340
Coos2290
Baker1132
Crook872
Tillamook700
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake340
Sherman180
Harney170
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
Santa Clara23591382
Alameda22932435
San Joaquin21436484
Contra Costa18273238
Stanislaus17403394
Tulare17317279
Ventura13930160
Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
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