NEWS

Microplastics Affect Pacific Peoples’ Health, ‘People May Be Consuming A Credit Card Worth Of Plastic Per Week’

University of the South Pacific Vice Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said: “Such research enables marine-focused staff, students and programmes to contribute substantially, health of marine resources and well-being of islanders and people across the world.”
03 Jul 2020 13:53
Microplastics Affect Pacific Peoples’ Health, ‘People May Be Consuming A Credit Card Worth Of Plastic Per Week’
Andrew Paris (sitting, second from left) with members of the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership Programme (PEUMP).

Pacific people will always be disproportionately affected by microplastics because we rely heavily on fish and seafood, says a researcher of marine-related issues.

Andrew Paris was speaking at the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership Programme (PEUMP) first virtual live event on microplastics.

He is among eight students from the Pacific region awarded scholarships for the USP Master’s Degree Programme and Doctor of Philosophy for marine-related research under the PEUMP.

Mr Paris said studies indicated that people may be consuming a credit card worth of plastics per week.

“However, we are yet to find out the effect of these microplastic on us. This is an emergent body of research,” he said.

The negative impacts of plastic litter on marine life in Pacific Harbour prompted him to pursue the research topic.

“The amount of combined plastic produced by the plastic globally has exceeded 8.3 billion tones with only 8 per cent of this incinerated and 6 per cent recycled,” he said.

According to Mr Paris’ study, microplastics are prevalent in the waters of Fiji and through seafood consumed, poses a threat to human health and to mother Earth.

“Globally, the discourse on the prevalence of microplastics has shown that areas with higher abundance in water and sediment increased the risk of exposure to marine biota and consequently humans as well,” he said.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of invisible plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean and are less than five millimetres in size.

Mr Paris hopes to provide valuable insight into the levels of microplastics found in surface waters around Fiji upon the completion of his research in 2021.

University of the South Pacific Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said: “Such research enables marine-focused staff, students and programmes to contribute substantially, health of marine resources and well-being of islanders and people across the world.”

This live virtual event was a precursor to the global initiative Plastic Free Day celebrated worldwide on July 3, which aims to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags.

USP is one of four key implementing partners of the overall PEUMP funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: jennis.naidu@fijisun.com.fj

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