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Plastic pollution sullies world's most beautiful lakes


The village of Nago Torbole, northern Italy,, near Lake Garda, pictured on July 8, 2011.


Christof Stache

In a study that will make you think twice about where to take your next holiday, researchers found that even seemingly pristine lakes are full of pollutants.

The study focused on Italy's stunning Lake Garda, tucked into the Italian Alps. They found large concentrations of plastic pollutants - tiny particles that are eaten by fish.

The fish are then consumed by humans with the plastic entering our bodies.

Plastics contain chemicals that can damage the endocrine system and cause cancers.

Garda was found to have around 1,000 larger particles per square meter and 450 micro-plastic particles in the same area.

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Scientists say that far from water pollution being concentrated in oceans or lakes with major urban centers, even sub-Alpine bodies of water like Garda have a pollution problem.

"These results should be understood as a general wake-up call", said study author Christian Laforsch of the University of Bayreuth.

"Plastic waste is by no means a danger confined to far-off bits of ocean. Environmental science and politics should have a stronger focus on these issues."

The German researchers said that even at home lakes have similar problems.

"There is nothing particular about Lake Garda," Laforsch told BBC.

"We are testing in Bavaria and it looks pretty much the same. It is, I think, a problem all over Europe and maybe all over the world."

The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.