The Ocean Is Contaminated by Trillions More Pieces of Plastic Than Thought

Posted In News, Pollution
Dec
17

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“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…”
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care

Abstracts;

This new study suggests there are 15 to 51 trillion micro plastic particles (those less than 200 millimeters in size) in the world’s oceans, weighing between 93 and 236,000 metric tons. This is about seven times more than scientists had previously estimated…

“Microplastic debris floating at the ocean surface can harm marine life. Understanding the severity of this harm requires knowledge of plastic abundance and distributions. Dozens of expeditions measuring microplastics have been carried out since the 1970s, but they have primarily focused on the North Atlantic and North Pacific accumulation zones, with much sparser coverage elsewhere. Here, we use the largest dataset of microplastic measurements assembled to date to assess the confidence we can have in global estimates of microplastic abundance and mass. We use a rigorous statistical framework to standardize a global dataset of plastic marine debris measured using surface-trawling plankton nets and coupled this with three different ocean circulation models to spatially interpolate the observations. Our estimates show that the accumulated number of microplastic particles in 2014 ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons, which is only approximately 1% of global plastic waste estimated to enter the ocean in the year 2010. These estimates are larger than previous global estimates, but vary widely because the scarcity of data in most of the world ocean, differences in model formulations, and fundamental knowledge gaps in the sources, transformations and fates of microplastics in the ocean…”

Read Full Article: “A global inventory of small floating plastic debris,” IOP Science (12-08-2015)

Even the tiniest plastics found in the sea with new technology, Science Daily (12-03-2015)
Studies have estimated that each year between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastics end up in the sea, and that the figure is expected to double over the next ten years. But we have only begun to learn what happens with the plastics afterwards. Scientists have now developed a method that can measure the microplastics that other methods overlook…

Here’s How Much Plastic Ends Up In the World’s Oceans,The Time (02-13-2015)
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans, it’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline…

Plastic Contaminates Ocean Sourced Table Salt, Scientific American (10-30-2015)
When researchers analyzed fifteen brands of common table salt bought at supermarkets across China, they found among the grains of seasoning micro-sized particles of plastic. The highest level of plastic contamination was found in salt sourced from the ocean…

Ocean Plastic is Likely Disappearing Into the Food Chain, New Study Indicates, Guardian UK (02-13-2015)

Biodegradable Plastics Are Not the Answer to Reducing Marine Litter, UN News Center (11-23-2015)

Plastic pollution: When The Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise. An estimated 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, and confirming and upward trend over the past years. In 2008, our global plastic consumption worldwide has been estimated at 260 million tons, and, according to a 2012 report by Global Industry Analysts, plastic consumption is to reach 297.5 million tons by the end of 2015.
Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us, around the world, to such a voracious appetite and over-consumption of plastic goods. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature…

A Sustainable Approach to Preventing Ocean Plastic Pollution, Algalita Foundation / Huffington Green (06-10-2015)
Although we know sustainable change begins with education, we’re well aware that major solutions are being achieved through attacking the problem at its source…

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