Plastics are often found in the bodies of animals. Researchers have found that eating birds causes inflammation and damage to the digestive system. This phenomenon is so common that they started talking about “plastics”.
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Plastic is everywhere on Earth – it can be found not only where it is needed, but also in the environment, for example in the oceans. Scientists from the British Museum of National History explain that plastic is not without health significance – and explain how harmful it can be.
They even talk about a new disease – “plasticism”. This name was created by analogy with silicon or asbestos.
Currently, “plastic sickness” has been observed in seabirds, which often swallow pieces of plastic, presumably as food. Over time, they develop chronic inflammation associated with irritation. This, in turn, leads to cirrhosis of the digestive system.
This is the first study to test birds’ stomach tissue for this purpose. This indicates that ingesting plastic can cause serious harm to the digestive system, says Dr. Alex Bond, co-author of the discovery published in the Journal of Hazardous Substances.
The disease has been found in pale-billed shearwaters that live on Lord Howe Island in Australia. Although the island is located 600 km from the coast of the mainland, the birds that live there are among the seabirds most affected.
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Scarring of the first stomach compartment was common in test subjects. The presence of stigmata has caused some of the glands that secrete digestive enzymes to atrophy, causing the body to absorb less vitamins and becoming more susceptible to infection or parasite attacks.
Scars can also make the stomach less elastic, which reduces its efficiency. This is especially dangerous for chicks, whose stomachs contain little food.
Analyzes of scientists indicate that 90 percent are in living organisms. Of the young birds, plasticine can be found, which is given to them along with the food by their parents. Furthermore, in extreme cases, birds can starve to death with stomachs full of plastic that they can’t digest.
In milder cases, plastic can slow their growth. The researchers also talk about the relationship between the presence of plastic in the bird’s body and the length of its wings and weight.
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Birds usually eat small pebbles that help their digestive system work, but when plastic is present, they break them into smaller pieces. This makes it more harmful.
The discovery’s authors express concern that the observed phenomena are just the tip of the iceberg. It is similar to other studies that indicate that when plastic enters the body, it can damage various organs.
“In previous studies, our group looked at how microplastics might affect different tissues,” says Dr. Bond. “We found these molecules in organs such as the spleen and kidneys, where their presence was accompanied by inflammation, fibrosis, and a complete loss of structure,” he explains.
# the birds
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