Detection and characterisation of microplastics and microfibres in fishmeal and soybean meal

Christopher Walkinshaw, Trevor J. Tolhurst, Penelope K. Lindeque, Richard Thompson, Matthew Cole

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Abstract

Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of nutrition for global food security, which is reliant on animal- and plant-based feeds. Anthropogenic particles, including microplastics and semi-synthetic cellulosic fibres, are prolific marine pollutants that are readily consumed by marine organisms, including small pelagic fish commonly used in fishmeal. Conversely, there is no indication plants can accumulate anthropogenic microparticles. We explore whether aquaculture feed presents a route of contamination for farmed fish. Commercially-sourced aquaculture feedstocks, including fishmeals and soybean meal, were processed (KOH digestion and ZnCl2 density separation) and anthropogenic particles characterised using microscopy and spectroscopic methods. Both fishmeal and soybean meals contained anthropogenic particles, with concentrations ranging 1070–2000 particles kg−1. The prevalence of anthropogenic particles in plant-based feeds indicates that the majority of contamination occurs post-harvest. Based on our findings, farmed Atlantic salmon may be exposed to a minimum of 1788–3013 anthropogenic particles from aquaculture feed across their commercial lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114189
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume185
Issue numberPart A
Early online date17 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Oct 2022

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