Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption

Environ Pollut. 2014 Oct:193:65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.06.010. Epub 2014 Jul 5.


Microplastics are present throughout the marine environment and ingestion of these plastic particles (<1 mm) has been demonstrated in a laboratory setting for a wide array of marine organisms. Here, we investigate the presence of microplastics in two species of commercially grown bivalves: Mytilus edulis and Crassostrea gigas. Microplastics were recovered from the soft tissues of both species. At time of human consumption, M. edulis contains on average 0.36 ± 0.07 particles g(-1) (wet weight), while a plastic load of 0.47 ± 0.16 particles g(-1) ww was detected in C. gigas. As a result, the annual dietary exposure for European shellfish consumers can amount to 11,000 microplastics per year. The presence of marine microplastics in seafood could pose a threat to food safety, however, due to the complexity of estimating microplastic toxicity, estimations of the potential risks for human health posed by microplastics in food stuffs is not (yet) possible.

Keywords: Crassostrea gigas; Human food chain; Ingestion; Microplastics; Mytilus edulis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bivalvia / chemistry
  • Bivalvia / metabolism*
  • Crassostrea / chemistry*
  • Crassostrea / metabolism
  • Mytilus edulis / chemistry*
  • Mytilus edulis / metabolism
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Plastics / metabolism
  • Shellfish / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical