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Study by the University of Tel Aviv on microplastics

In a recent study conducted by Tel Aviv University in collaboration with the Israeli Research Centre for the Mediterranean Sea, a research team investigated the extent of microplastic pollution along the Israeli coast. The scientists collected sand samples from six beaches between Haifa and Ashkelon. According to the study, the Israeli coastline is polluted with more than two tons of microplastics, with Tel Aviv and Hadera beaches said to be the worst affected.

The study by a Tel Aviv University research team led by environmental scientist Dr. Ines Zucker was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. To investigate the current state of microplastic pollution along Israel's Mediterranean coast, the team took samples from six beaches between Haifa and Ashkelon and analysed them under a microscope. The analyses included particle counting, mass measurements, image analysis, and chemical analysis to identify the polymer type of the microplastic particles, and the materials that adhere to the microplastic particles. They found that microplastic particles and so-called biofilms, which form by the settling of organic materials and the adhesion of inorganic materials to the plastic particles, were the predominant pollutants on the beaches. Polyethylene and polypropylene were the two types of plastic most commonly found in the samples. The researchers identified not only secondary microplastics but also pellets of polymers such as polyurethane, polypropylene, PVC foam and expanded polystyrene in the sand samples. Plastics such as food packaging were found more frequently than plastics of marine origin, said the research team.


„"Our research shows that the Israeli coast is probably polluted with more than two tons of microplastic waste," said study co-author Andrey Ethan Rubin. The amount of microplastics detected on Tel Aviv and Hadera beaches was four times higher than on stretches of beach in a nature reserve, which is regularly cleaned, especially of plastic waste, according to the research team. The beaches of Tel Aviv and Hadera were also the most polluted by microplastics, with 18,777 particles per cubic metre, according to Zucker and Rubin's research. Both cities are located near river mouths, which the team suspects is the cause of the higher microplastic concentrations. The water from the rivers could carry microplastic particles with it into the sea, increasing pollution on the beach, they said. For example, the Nahal Alexander River collects leachate from untreated sewage from the West Bank, as well as waste from agricultural and industrial areas near the riverbeds, they said. Similarly, microplastics from industrial centres in Tel Aviv accumulate in the Yarkon River, he said. "We need to monitor the smaller plastic particles and additional environmental samples such as seawater and rivers to better understand the environmental patterns related to microplastics," says Rubin. Zucker and her team advocate regulatory action by the country to reduce Israel's contribution to microplastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.


Photo, l. to r.: Andrey Ethan Rubin and Dr. Ines Zucker.



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