This plastic bag doesn't look dangerous, but plastics pose a significant risk to aquatic ecosystems. SFU's Leah Bendell looks into plastics as a source of trace metals and a concern for intertidal food webs.


Plastic beach garbage a source of heavy metals in ocean food webs: study

February 14, 2018

By Diane Mar-Nicolle

At current rates of plastic production, by 2050 the total mass of plastics in our oceans will outweigh the biomass of fish.  — World Economic Forum

Last summer, Bertrand Munier spent four weeks picking up plastic debris from nine beaches along Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C.

Munier, an environmental engineering student on exchange from Lyon, France was carrying out research under the supervision of Leah Bendell, a biological sciences professor.

She was staggered by the diversity of objects Munier collected; items ranged from children’s toys, bicycle parts and personal hygiene items to food packaging.  

“We found some items carried extremely high concentrations of copper, lead, zinc and cadmium while all items carried traces of the four metals,” says Bendell.

Full story.