September 27, 2022

Research has shown that gut viruses such as rotavirus can survive by attaching to microplastics, tiny plastic particles less than 5 mm in length.

The viruses that cause diarrhea and stomach upset will remain contagious for as long as they can survive, and pose a potential health risk. Thus the findings of researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

“We found that viruses can attach to microplastics and allow them to stay in the water for three days, maybe longer,” said Prof Richard Quilliam, lead researcher on the project at Stirling University. ).

Previous research has been carried out in sterile environments, this is the first study of how viruses behave in the environment. But Quilliam used standard laboratory methods to determine whether the virus found in microplastics in water was contagious.

“We’re not sure how well viruses can survive by ‘hitting’ on plastic in the environment, but they persist and remain infectious,” he said.

These findings look at how plastic transports bacteria and viruses, concluding that microplastics allow the transfer of pathogens in the environment. This report is published in a scientific paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

“Contagious in the environment for three days, that’s long enough to move from a wastewater treatment plant to a public beach,” Quilliam said.

He added that the wastewater treatment plant cannot catch microplastics. Even if wastewater treatment plants do everything they can to clean up the sewage, the discharged water still has microplastics in it, which are then transported to rivers, to estuaries and ending up on beaches.

“These plastic particles are so small that they can be swallowed by swimmers. Sometimes they wash up on the beach as brightly colored pellets that children might pick up and put in their mouths. It doesn’t take a lot of virus particles to make you sick,” says Quilliam.

The impact of microplastics on human health is confirmed. But what is clear, if the pieces of microplastic are ‘hit’ by human pathogens, then it can be a significant health risk.

The researchers tested two types of viruses that had an envelope around them, or a kind of lipid layer like the flu virus, and those that didn’t, such as rotavirus and norovirus.

They found that in viruses that have a coating, the envelope dissolves quickly and the virus dies. while those without a sheath managed to bind to the microplastic and survive.

“Viruses can also bind to natural surfaces in the environment. But plastic pollution lasts longer than these materials,” Quilliam said.

The researchers tested the viruses for three days, aiming to learn how long they could remain infectious in future studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.