In the Valsequillo Dam, which receives water from the Atoyac River, a study was conducted that determined that there is microplastic contamination with micro particles loaded with toxins that enter the food chain and present serious risks to the environment, as well as human health.
According to Dr. Estefanía Martínez Tavera, the Department of Biological Sciences of the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) is developing the research "Microplastics in watersheds: Presence, origin, degradation and accumulation processes. Case study: Alto Atoyac Basin", in collaboration with the National Polytechnic Institute, the Technological Institute of Toluca and the Metropolitan Polytechnic University of Puebla.
They not only investigated the aspect of microplastics, but also the metals present in the liver and muscle of the fish that inhabit the site; they found contaminants such as lead, chromium and zinc.
Because of the amounts of toxic metals attached to the microplastics in the basin, fish also have them, which is a risk because these cause them not to reach an adequate size, besides that when consuming the fish there is a risk of also ingesting the lead and other contaminants, so it is not recommended.
"In Mexico we suddenly make broth with many things and we eat many things that are not only strictly the fish muscle...this becomes a risk, in this case, to the extent that it is consumed frequently, because it has a strong presence of lead," explained the doctor.
The presence of microplastics
Microplastics, the doctor explains, can be primary or secondary. The former are the product of items such as exfoliants, masks, toothpaste, soaps, synthetic fibers of clothing, among others, and the latter are caused by degradation; either by wind or solar friction that occurs in the plastic.
They have the characteristic of a size of less than 5 millimeters, i.e. they are very small, but not as small as nanoplastics which are practically particles.
Because of their small size, they cannot be eliminated by sewage filtration systems, therefore they end up in rivers and oceans, where they are ingested by fish and other species.
"In this case, the Manuel Ávila Camacho dam known as Valsequillo, is the final part of the upper Atoyac Basin and serves as a recipient of pollutants and everything we discard in the rivers, then everything that is not disposed of properly also goes to the dam, so there we find the reality", adds the doctor.
To avoid contamination it is important to avoid using single-use plastics, with measures such as using your own bottles and containers and even cloth bags.
The study will continue in ducks and cows
Dr. Estefania reported that she will continue to carry out the research with other species, such as ducks and cows, but taking care not to harm any of them.
In the case of ducks, they will investigate the contents of the digestive system, blood and feathers, which will allow them to observe the pathogenic microorganisms. The cows will have their milk collected for analysis.
We have is already set up techniques, methodology so as not to harm the animals in this case, we are very close to obtaining our samples", she assures.
Translation done by: Karla Giselle Bonales Ramírez