Mussels from supermarkets in Lancaster and Morecambe have all been found to contain plastic, new research has revealed.
Award-winning university graduate Rebecca Moore, 21, from Morecambe, bought blue mussels from different supermarkets in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.
She bought chilled, vacuum packed, frozen, pickled and live mussels, and digested them in the lab.
She then examined them under a microscope and discovered that all the mussels she bought were contaminated with microplastics.
The total amount of plastics in all samples came to 2,136 pieces, which works out at 11.86 plastic items in each individual mussel.
Rebecca, who has just graduated with a BSc in Marine and Freshwater Conservation from the University of Cumbria, where she was also named Student of the Year for the Ambleside campus, said that cooked mussels had the highest abundance of microplastics within them.
She said: “It’s already been found that plastic is within fish and other seafood items so I thought there may be plastic in mussels but we found a lot more than I initially thought there would be.
“I wasn’t expecting to find plastic in every sample however the results show that there was plastic in every single mussel.
“The microplastics are already in our water column, so they may get there from waste water like washing machines (microfibres) and showers and baths (microbeads) as well as the larger items of plastic that have degraded (like plastic bags and bottles).
“Blue mussels filter feed, which means they suck in water from their surroundings, this water is polluted with microplastics and therefore everything within the water is also ingested.
“This leaves the mussels contaminated.
“It is more likely that plastic will be ingested by humans through shellfish than regular fish as we eat mussels whole, whereas fish are gutted and therefore any micro plastics within their digestive system will be taken out.
We do not know what the consequences are of humans ingesting plastic however if plastics continue to leach out chemicals within the body then it is likely to cause negative affects on our health.”