ARDEER beach has recorded a record amount of pollution thanks to nurdles - small toxic pellets produced by the plastics industry.

More than 90 per cent of countries involved in a pollution survey by environmental charity Fidra were found to have hundreds of thousands of plastic pellets littering their coastlines.

The beach next to the Ardeer explosive site recorded the worst figures in Scotland - over 1000 nurdles in two different areas.

Three different areas of the Irvine beach park were also investigated, two of which were found to have between 100 and 1000 of the toxic pellets, while a third area had a seemingly more manageable 30-100.

While a venture down the coastline into South Ayrshire shows that this area does not seem to be suffering the same problems.

Only around a fifth of investigated areas in our neighbours to the south were shown to have any presence of nurdles with only one area, in Turnberry, believed to have over 100 pellets infesting the sands.

Like other plastics, nurdles can be mistaken for food by marine wildlife like seabirds, fish, and crustaceans.

Once polluting our environment, they can pose a threat to these creatures and habitats for years to come.

Due to their size, and often clear colour, nurdles can look like fish eggs or other small animals which makes them particularly attractive.

More than 220 marine species have been shown to ingest plastic debris.

Plastic can get trapped in an animal’s stomach causing ulceration, making them feel full and stopping them eating real food. This can lead to starvation and potentially death.

Toxic chemicals can also transfer from microplastic to animals that eat them, causing further harm – another route for these chemicals to enter the food chain.

In the UK, over 6000 companies are part of the plastics industry; producing, importing and converting nurdles into plastic products.

Across Europe that figure rises to more than 60,000 companies, with plastics production reaching just over 60 million tonnes, in 2018.

However, the plastics industry and the issue of nurdle pollution is inherently global.

Over 350 million tonnes of plastic was produced in 2018, weighing more than the total weight of the human population.

After plastic pellets (or nurdles) are produced they are transported across the world in their billions.

During each stage of the industrial process, from pellet to product, nurdles are spilt.

When not cleaned up properly they can enter our rivers and waterways.

Across the UK it is estimated that as many as 53 billion pellets could enter our oceans every year.