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Living things (biota)

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Living things (biota)

When living things ingest waste material, they can become a sink, for that waste. Many studies have focused on the impact of plastic and other waste on living things. However, the probability and extent of waste ingested by living things is not well understood.

One study team has suggested that 100,000 tonnes of plastic, including nanoplastics, could be inside animals at any point in time[2].

A study found that microplastics affected the biomass of phytoplankton species, the impact varied depending on location and season, and some species had greater tolerance to the chemicals[1].

As with the other parts of our environment, the extent and impact of plastics ingested by living things requires further study.


  1. ^ M’Rabet, C, Yahia, OKD, Couet, D, Gueroun, SKM & Pringault, O (2019), 'Consequences of a contaminant mixture of bisphenol A (BPA) and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), two plastic-derived chemicals, on the diversity of coastal phytoplankton', Marine Pollution Bulletin. [online], vol. 138, pp. 385-396. Available at:
  2. ^ van Sebille, E, Wilcox, C, Lebreton, L, Maximenko, N, Hardesty, BD, van Franeker, JA, Eriksen, M, Siegel, D, Galgani, F & Lavender Law, K (2015), 'A global inventory of small floating plastic debris.', Environmental Research Letters. [online], vol. 10, no. 12. Available at:

Last updated: 12 January 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Living things (biota), WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science