Up to 4000 microplastics per square meter were detected on Cyprus’ coasts, the non-governmental research centre, AKTI, announced on Thursday.

The announcement, on the occasion of International Oceans Day, came at the end of the first year-long sampling of microplastics collected from the island’s beaches, part of an ongoing three-year study.

Microplastics are plastic particles of 5mm-1μm size known to be present in human blood and especially in children. The extent of the repercussions on public health and the environment are still being researched.

According to AKTI president, Xenia Loizidou, two series of samplings were carried out at 10 beaches, both remote and popular, in July 2022 and March 2023.

Loizidou said the same level of microplastics were detected at both types of sites.

These are microspheres (pellets), small pieces of various colours, but also transparent films, Loisidou said, adding that on many coasts the microplastics reach up to 7 per cent of surface sediment in weight.

The expert stressed the seriousness of the problem and said that research will continue for at least the next two years with the support of Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd.

The goals is to highlight the problem so that measures can be taken, she said, noting that field data and the creation of a systematic database are an important start.

“Our message is: all together for clean coasts and seas without plastics,” the AKTI rep said.