For the first time, scientists have proven that viruses can survive and remain infectious by binding themselves to plastics in freshwater. The new study raises concerns about the impact it could have on human health.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal ScienceDirect. Led by researchers from the University of Stirling, this is the first of its kind study to explore the issue of using water taken from the natural environment.

  

Viruses can survive in freshwater by hitch-hiking on plastics

WHAT?

For the first time, scientists have proven that viruses can survive and remain infectious by binding themselves to plastics in freshwater. The new study raises concerns about the impact it could have on human health.

HOW?

Scientists found Rotavirus, which causes diarrhea, living up to three days in lake water by attaching itself to the surfaces of tiny beads of plastic pollution, called microplastics. These microplastics are so small that they could potentially be ingested by someone swimming.

Microplastics are formed when plastic trash in the ocean breaks down from the sun’s rays and the motion of ocean waves. These tiny particles can be carried hundreds or thousands of miles away from the source by ocean currents, making it difficult to track and remove them.

MORE:

Like all plastics, microplastics too are non-biodegradable, and it can take hundreds of years for them to degrade. In a startling discovery, these tiny plastics had been found in human blood, raising health worries and demonstrating the actual extent of plastics' deadly grasp on the world.

They have been responsible for not only invading humans but also the depths of the Mariana Trench and even the top of Mount Everest. Researchers said that this microplastic came predominantly from packaging and while its impact on health is being studied in more detail, its presence in such places is surprising.