DATE: November 13, 2019
SNIP: Plastics are everywhere — including the stomachs of oysters and razor clams up and down the Oregon Coast.
Several studies have shown that microplastics, which are tiny pieces of plastic that make up other larger plastic items, can make their way into fish, crustaceans, clams, oysters and ultimately into us, the people that eat them.
The latest of these studies was published Tuesday in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters. It’s the first such scientific paper to look at microplastics in razor clams.
Britta Baechler, a doctoral candidate at Portland State University and the lead author on the study, wanted to know if where the shellfish lived and the time of year they were harvested had any impact on how much plastic would be in the animal.
Baechler and her colleagues sampled shellfish from 15 locations on the Oregon Coast. All told, they looked at 141 Pacific oysters and 142 Pacific razor clams. Samples were taken in both spring and summer.
But the mollusks couldn’t escape the abundant plastic particles: only two organisms out of the almost 300 found were free of plastics.
Earlier this year, an Oregon Public Broadcasting investigation, conducted with Elise Granek, a marine scientist at Portland State University and the principal investigator on Baechler’s paper, found microplastic in rivers and streams all around Oregon. Even remote and seemingly-pristine streams weren’t found to be microplastic-free.
And if it’s in the water (and the air and our food) then it’s probably inside of us, too.