A University of Queensland study revealed that microplastics are not just small particles that can be swallowed, they can also carry viruses.

Led study Assistant Professor Jianhua Guo and Dr Ji Lo from the University of Queensland Australian Center for Water and Environmental Biotechnology (Answer)It was checked whether microplastics had the ability to harbor viruses, including the virus inside coli bacteria bacteria.

We often hear about human and environmental damage from microplastics in water, but little is known about whether microplastics can carry viruses.”

Jianhua Gu, Associate Professor, Australian Center for Water and Environmental Biotechnology, University of Queensland

“What we found is that viruses can transfer to microplastics and prolong infection, which means there may be an increased risk of viruses being transmitted through waterways and the environment.”

The doctor said if they used coli bacteria The phage in the study is a virus that infects and reproduces within the bacteria themselves and is not harmful to humans.

“By testing polystyrene particles of different sizes, we found that more than 98 percent of the viruses we used were found in microplastics, and more than half of the viruses could still be detected after 10 days — much longer than if they were virus particles,” said Dr. if.

The team also tested how exposure to sunlight and the size of the microplastics helped prolong the survival of the virus and found that the more environmental damage the microplastics had, the more likely they were to carry viruses.

“Microplastics carrying the virus can be a huge problem,” Dr. Lu said.

“The dose required to be infective to humans varies with different virus types, but there may be cases where the dose is sufficient on microplastics to cause potential infection.

“Because microplastics are likely to accumulate deadly viruses and travel through waterways, it can be dangerous to eat seafood harvested from areas where they are frequently contaminated with microplastics.”

Dr. Lu said the study began when sewage was tested for cases of COVID-19 in the community, leading the team to investigate what might mediate transmission of the virus in aquatic environments.

“Our findings also indicated that microplastics could influence how viruses are distributed in the water, which may be of interest in future studies,” said Dr. Lu.

“Our findings have opened the door for further research needed in this area, including testing whether other pathogens are able to pounce on more types of microplastics.

“The fact that viruses and microplastics can interact with each other can be problematic for human health, but more research needs to be done to investigate these effects further.”


University of Queensland

Journal reference:

lo, c, and others. (2022) Microplastics as potential carriers of viruses can extend virus survival and infection. water research. doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2022.119115.

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