Pathogens hitchhiking on plastics ‘could carry cholera from India to US’

Pandemic in waiting

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Research finds ‘nurdles’ washed up on Scottish beaches tainted with E coli, with potentially far-reaching health implications

Dangerous sewage pathogens have been found “hitch-hiking” on plastic litter washed up on some of Scotland’s finest bathing beaches, raising concerns from scientists the phenomenon could have far-reaching implications for human health worldwide.

The findings, by the University of Stirling, have confirmed environmentalists’ fears that ubiquitous, persistent and tiny plastic beads, or “nurdles”, found on beaches and in rivers and seas around the world, act as rafts for harmful bacteria, transporting them from sewage outfalls and agricultural runoff to bathing waters and shellfish beds.

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