Tag Archives: Plastic Pollution

Historic Move, Canada to list BPA as Toxic

microplastics
“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

Excerpts;

Canada is in the process of a historic move, becoming the first nation to add bisphenol-A to its list of toxic substances, Environment Canada confirmed Wednesday.

The chemical used in making plastic has become increasingly controversial since Ottawa promised two years ago it would designate it a toxic substance. Its estrogen-like effects are suspected of creating havoc with hormone levels…

Read Full Article, The Toronto Star

Canadian Government to designate bisphenol A as toxic by November, Postmedia News.

All the Way to the Ocean

By Nancy Weiner, Editor Southern Sierran

Designed as a children book, Joel Harper’s “All the Way to the Ocean,” illustrated by Marq Spusta, and foreword by Laird Hamilton, delivers a strong message to adults as well about protecting the ocean, keeping our sewers free from garbage, and also about friendship and teamwork. And it is through teamwork that Mr. Harper created this wonderful little book with Mr. Spusta’s colorful, expressive illustrations.

What strikes this reader first upon opening “All the Way to the Ocean,” is that it is ostensibly a labor of love.

Where Has All the Plastic Gone?


This Rainbow Runner had consumed 17 plastic fragments. Photo source: EHP -©5 Gyres

Excerpts;

Hundreds of kilometers off the coast of southern California lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast soup of degraded plastic fragments. On the other side of the country, tiny flecks of floating plastic swim in a swath of seemingly pristine Atlantic Ocean at least two-thirds the size of the United States.

Oceanographers have quantified trends in the Atlantic “plastic soup” for the first time, and they’ve come to a surprising conclusion: The amount of plastic in the Atlantic has remained steady for 2 decades despite a steep rise in industrial plastic production. That suggests that either people are keeping their trash on land or plastic is going to some unknown destination in the sea.

Since 1986, students on research sailing trips led by Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, have been documenting plastic snagged in their plankton nets in the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The students and scientists tow a net behind their ship for about 2 kilometers, then use tweezers to pick out and hand-count trapped plastic pieces, most no larger than your pinky fingernail.

In their first publication of these data since the late 1980s, the SEA team reports that it found plastic in more than 60% of 6136 tows over 22 years. The levels are low close to shore but rise hundreds of kilometers off the coast between 22 and 38 degrees latitude (roughly from the Bahamas to Baltimore).

Researchers can’t tell the ages of individual plastic bits, since there are no chemical techniques for dating petroleum-based products. That makes it nearly impossible to tell if the seemingly stable amount of trash is actually due to turnover.

But despite huge annual fluctuations in plastic levels (probably a result of smaller-scale eddies and winds, Law says), the overall amount of plastic in the North Atlantic Ocean has been steady across the two-plus decades. This is surprising because the amount of plastic produced globally and thrown away in the United States has grown several times over the same period, and presumably some of it winds up in the ocean.

Meanwhile, even though the SEA expedition traveled a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) east of Bermuda, “we still can’t find the eastern edge” of the patch, Law said…

Read Full Article, Science AAAS (08-20-2010)

Plastic Accumulation in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre; Science Magazine
Plastic marine pollution is a significant environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of this problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. More than 60% of 6136 surface plankton net tows collected buoyant plastic pieces typically millimeters in size. The highest concentration of plastic debris was observed in subtropical latitudes and associated with the observed large-scale convergence in surface currents predicted by Ekman dynamics. Despite a rapid increase in plastic production and disposal during this time period, no trend in plastic concentration was observed in the region of highest accumulation…

Atlantic Ocean’s Garbage Patch Not Growing, National Geographic (08-2010)

New plastic garbage patch discovered in Indian Ocean

oc-la-reunion
Indian Ocean. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Scientists recently announced the existence of a garbage patch in the Indian Ocean, the third major collection of plastic garbage discovered in the world’s oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Ocean gyre, is well known. And more recently scientists confirmed the existence of a second garbage patch in the North Atlantic gyre.

Anna Cummins and her husband,Marcus Eriksen, cofounder of 5 Gyres Institute, report that all of the 12 water samples collected in the 3,000 miles between Perth, Australia, and Port Louis, Mauritius (an island due East of Madagascar), contain plastic.

Their findings support earlier research about trash washed onto beaches in and around the Indian Ocean, and it’s already been well established that there’s an enormous amount of plastic trash swirling in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean Gyres…

This Indian Ocean garbage patch discovery means there are now three confirmed ocean zones of plastic pollution, and Eriksen and Cummins expect to find others in the South Pacific and South Atlantic gyres also. The 5 Gyres Institute, a team of scientists and educators, will lead eight expeditions to explore the South Atlantic (starting later this summer) and South Pacific (scheduled for next spring)…

Read Full Article; AP (08-10-2010)

Plastic Pollution: The Great Plastic Tide, Coastal Care
The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, and standing on the front row of the greatest, most unprecedented, plastic waste tide ever faced. Washed out on our coasts in obvious and clearly visible form, the plastic pollution spectacle blatantly unveiling on our beaches is only the prelude of the greater story that unfolded further away in the world’s oceans, yet mostly originating from where we stand: the land…

Midway Atoll, Northwestern End Of The Hawaiian Archipelago; By Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan Photography

Midway: Message from the Gyre (2009)

By © Chris Jordan, Photographic Arts

As my team and I prepare to travel back to Midway Atoll, I cannot help but note the macabre juxtaposition of the environmental disaster that is happening in the Pacific Ocean, with the one that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. The two phenomena are oddly parallel, involving (among other grotesque features) the deaths of untold numbers of sea birds, caused by millions of tons of our petroleum products that have poured into the ocean via our collective negligence. And in each case the birds can be viewed as messengers, serving as one small warming signal of a much larger calamity, with global consequences, in which our individual consumer lifestyles are unavoidably complicit.

My friend the artist Richard Lang says the opposite of beauty is not ugliness, but indifference.

Plastiki: a journey from plastic trash to triumph


The Plastiki reaching Sydney. Captions and Photo source: ©© Ars Electronica

Excerpts;

A sailboat largely constructed from 12,500 recycled plastic bottles has completed a 4-month journey across the Pacific Ocean meant to raise awareness about the perils of plastic waste.

The Plastiki, a 60-foot (18-meter) catamaran, and its six crew weathered fierce ocean storms during its 8,000 nautical miles at sea. It left San Francisco on March 20, stopping along the way at various South Pacific island nations including Kiribati and Samoa. It docked Monday in Sydney Harbour.

De Rothschild, 31, said the idea for the journey came to him after he read a United Nations report in 2006 that said pollution, and particularly plastic waste, was seriously threatening the world’s oceans…

Read Full Article, Boston Online

Plastiki reaches Australia


The Plastiki reaching Sydney. Made of approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and engineered using the most sustainable methods possible, the Plastiki is meant to be used as a platform upon which solutions to the myriad of environmental problems can be found. Particularly, the Plastiki is hoping to raise awareness about single-use consumer products that are filling landfills and the sea. Photo source: ©© Ars Electronica

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After spending 125 days traveling over 8,000 nautical miles, the Plastiki is preparing to reach Sydney, its final destination, on Sunday.

The Plastiki’s arrival in Sydney will not, however, be the 60-foot catamaran’s first time to reach Australian soil. Winter storms producing near-hurricane strength winds forced the vessel and its crew to take refuge in Mooloolaba, Queensland on Monday.
Originally, the crew had hoped to land in Coffs Harbour, south from Mooloolaba, before heading to Sydney. After waiting out the bad weather, the Plastiki took off from its unexpected first port-of-call in Australia early Friday morning with hopes to reach Sydney in the next two days.

Read Full Article, CNN

Stunningly High Levels of Toxins Found in Whales


Photo source: ©© Angieandsteeve

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Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.

A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said…

Read Full Article; By Arthur Max, The Associated Press.

Plastiki: Restocking in Samoa


British adventurer David de Rothschild spoke about his adventure sailing as the captain of the Plastiki Eco-Expedition. The Plastiki is a boat made entirely out of plastic bottles. The expedition set sail from San Francisco on March 20 2010 and arrived in Sydney on July 26 2010. Captions and Photo source: ©© Kris Krug

Excerpts;

The crew of the Plastiki remain in Samoa resupplying the boat and preparing for their final leg to Australia.

Wayward winds had pushed Plastiki towards the island nation instead of the intended destination of Fiji.

The crew have now traveled 5,483 nautical miles and made landfall on Samoa on May 25, just two weeks after leaving Christmas Island.

The final leg of the voyage is expected to take around 40 days…

Read Full Article, CNN