‘Plasticosis’: Scientists find new disease in birds caused by consumption of plastics
Scientists have discovered a new disease in birds that is solely caused by the consumption of plastics. Called "Plasticosis", the researchers in Australia and UK found scarred tissues in their digestive tracts that were caused by feasting on plastics.
According to the study, published in the journal of Hazardous Materials, the disease is caused by the "persistent presence of plastic in the body's digestive system" that can lead to long-term inflammation and even the formation of scar tissue.
The researchers found traces of plastics in 30 flesh-footed shearwater birds, including 21 fledglings between 80 and 90 days old, who had died recently. They were collected from Lord Howe Island in Australia.
Upon close observation, they found microplastic pieces in the bodies of the birds. A bird was found to have consumed 12.5 per cent of its body weight in plastic.
The study found that the more plastic a bird consumed, the more scarring it had on the tissues.
According to them, the disease can lead to the gradual breakdown of tubular glands in the proventriculus. Losing these glands can cause the birds to become more vulnerable to infection and parasites and affect their ability to digest food and absorb some vitamins.
Scientists called the fibrotic disease plasticosis to make it clear that it was caused by plastic in the environment.
“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,” Dr Alex Bond, principal curator in charge of birds at the Natural History Museum, was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.
They argued that all organisms are vulnerable to plastic exposure because plastic emissions are increasing and plastic pollution is becoming prevalent in all environments.