Scientists at Lund University in Sweden have found that plastic nanoparticles are transported through the aquatic food chain and can affect fish metabolism and behaviour, increasing the time taken to consume a portion of food.
The researchers studied commercially manufactured polystyrene nanoparticles to examine how they are transferred through an aquatic food chain from algae through zooplankton to fish. They found significant transport between organisms, resulting in the disruption of several metabolic parameters in fish including weight loss and cholesterol levels and distribution. In addition, fish exposed to the nanoparticles were found to take more than twice as long to consume the same amount of food as control fish.
The authors suggest their results could be useful for developing assays to test for nanoparticles and investigate potential biological risks associated with them.
The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE.