Microplastics clump with natural particles
Plastic and plankton poo give researchers a sinking feeling.
Microplastics that find their way into the ocean form clumps with biological particles such as plankton and its faeces. The clumps then sink, carrying the plastics down into deep-sea sediments.
Laboratory simulations performed by a team led by Jan Michels from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, in Germany, show that microplastics coated with a biofilm, such as bacteria and microalgae, create an even stickier surface that allows clumps to form at a rapid rate, sending even more to the depths.