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Marine Debris Program Publishes Article on Microplastics in Mussels

JULY 6, 2021 ─ On June 29, the journal Frontiers in Marine Science published an article co-authored by the Marine Debris Program. Entitled “Microplastics in Invasive Freshwater Mussels (Dreissena sp.): Spatiotemporal Variation and Occurrence With Chemical Contaminants,” the study measured microplastics and chemical contaminants in mussel tissue from Milwaukee Harbor harvested from reference locations and sites influenced by wastewater effluent and urban river discharge. 

Microplastics in mussels were higher in the largest mussels at the wastewater-adjacent site after 30 days deployment. However, there was no distinction among sites for microplastics in smaller mussels, and no differences among sites after 60 days of deployment. Microplastics and chemical contaminants in mussels were not correlated. While dreissenid mussels may not serve as plastic pollution biomonitors like they can for chemical contaminants, microplastics in dreissenid mussels are widespread, variable, and have unknown effects on physiology, mussel-mediated ecosystem processes, and lake food webs. 

The project, funded by MDP, represents a collaboration among MDP, NOAA Great Lakes Mussel Watch and Loyola University Chicago.

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:43pm PST