Tiny particles of microplastic are already polluting every lake and river in Britain, posing as-yet-unknown risks to wildlife, scientists have warned.
Even remote bodies of water such as Loch Lomond are polluted with plastic particles, the researchers found.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size, which scientists believe can harm wildlife – and may pose health risks to humans in the food chain.
Researchers from Bangor University and Friends of the Earth collected water samples from rivers, reservoirs and lochs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Every sample contained plastic, with the River Tame in Greater Manchester having more than 1,000 particles per litre – and Loch Lomond having 2.4 particles per litre.
Ullswater in the Lake District had 29.5 shards of microplastic per litre.
Dr Christian Dunn, of Bangor University said, ‘It was more than a little startling to discover microplastics were present in even the most remote sites we tested, and quite depressing they were there in some of our country’s most iconic locations.
‘I’m sure Wordsworth would not be happy to discover his beloved Ullswater in the Lake District was polluted with plastic.
“It’s now clear that microplastics should be considered a serious emerging contaminant and there needs to be a concerted effort to regularly monitor all our inland waters for them.’