Lord Howe Island via Australia.com
Plastic is everywhere, and has become so common that it is impacting the health of animals and people.
New research now shows that seabirds are suffering from a plastic-induced illness named ‘plasticosis’.
A new disease has been described in seabirds, but it might just be the tip of the iceberg.
Rather than being caused by viruses or bacteria, ‘plasticosis’ is caused by small pieces of plastic which inflame the digestive tract. Over time, persistent inflammation causes tissues to become scarred and deformed, with knock-on effects on growth, digestion and survival.
Dr Alex Bond, who co-authored the study and is Principal Curator and Curator in Charge of Birds at the Museum, says, ‘While these birds can look healthy on the outside, they’re not doing well on the inside.’
‘This study is the first time that stomach tissue has been investigated in this way and shows that plastic consumption can cause serious damage to these birds’ digestive system.’
While plasticosis is only known from one species so far, the scale of plastic pollution means that it may be much more widespread. It could even be having impacts on human health.
The findings of the research were published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Original Article: ‘Plasticosis’: a new disease caused by plastic that is affecting seabirds
More from: Natural History Museum London
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