Plastics everywhere was bad enough, but now multiple studies have found that 94 percent of our drinking water and 93 percent of sampled bottled water worldwide are full of plastic particles and chemicals, including BPA, heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides, PCBs and other chemicals, many of which are linked in animal studies as well as some human studies to cancer, premature puberty, reduced immunity, birth defects, endocrine disruption, insulin resistance, and other major diseases. And we have no idea and neither does the FDA, EPA, or any other federal agency, whether this lethal cocktail, which binds together with other toxins, is having an even more profound impact on our health and that of our kids. What we get now from those agencies is “conflicting findings” and “uncertainties” about the potential impact of plastics-related chemicals. What we do know is that governments only test or analyze the impacts of individual chemicals to determine the levels of potentially life-threatening exposure, making it impossible to figure out the combined total load of chemicals from plastics our babies can safely absorb.
Scientists arrived at this figure, which is around 16 times higher than previous estimates, by assessing aerial images alongside data from ships dragging nets through the region.
Occupying the waters between California and Hawaii, the patch is the largest of five major offshore waste accumulation zones that result from converging ocean currents.
The research was conducted by scientists at the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, who are attempting to understand the true extent of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
“Overall you would expect plastic pollution is getting worse in the oceans because we are producing and using more plastics, globally and annually,” Dr Laurent Lebreton told The Independent.
Around 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped in the ocean annually. That equates to emptying a garbage truck of plastic into the sea every minute , most of it single-use products, such as plastic bags, candy wrappers, sachets and soda bottles.
This mismanagement not only pollutes oceans and harms marine wildlife, but also makes life harder for locals, whether they are residents of neighborhoods that regularly flood (owing to drains clogged with plastic), workers at coastal resorts that cater to tourists or fishermen facing dwindling fish stocks. The economic implications are startling. Marine debris cost the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies around $1.3 billion in 2008, and that number is only going up as the problem gets worse.
We’re encouraged that the world is waking up to the crisis of plastic waste in our ocean, and working together to resolve it. News outlets around the world highlighted the shocking video earlier this month of the British diver swimming through plastic waste off the coast of Bali. The recent World Ocean Summit, held in Mexico earlier this month, focused extensively on plastic waste. The sixth International Marine Debris conference convened last week in San Diego and highlighted new and emerging science that will help us tackle this growing problem. Earlier this year, Evian, Coca-Cola and other businesses announced efforts to address packaging waste and improve recyclability of their products.
An enormous area of rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with far more debris than previously thought, heightening alarm that the world’s oceans are being increasingly choked by trillions of pieces of plastic.
The sprawling patch of detritus – spanning 1.6m sq km, (617,763 sq miles) more than twice the size of France – contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic, new research published in Scientific Reports has found. This mass of waste is up to 16 times larger than previous estimates and provides a sobering challenge to a team that will start an ambitious attempt to clean up the vast swath of the Pacific this summer.
Marine scientists from the National University of Ireland (NUI) in Galway found the plastic bits in 73 percent of 233 deep-sea fish collected from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean—one of the highest microplastic frequencies in fish ever recorded worldwide.
Plastic production wreaks havoc on people and the planet—from fracking wells and pipelines in Pennsylvania, to air pollution from plastic plants in Scotland.
We are choking the planet in plastic. Everything from wasteful water bottles to grocery shopping bags are polluting our waterways, and endangering marine life and the natural environment. It’s fair to say that even the most casual news consumer has probably encountered a Facebook post, TV report, or radio segment about the garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean.
But what’s less well-known is what is fueling this plastics binge: fracking. As the Guardian recently reported, in less than a decade, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in creating new manufacturing sites around the world to turn fossil fuels into resin pellets used to manufacture plastic products. The companies profiting off this surge in plastics are contributing to a growing climate crisis while generating mountains of plastic garbage.
Dunkin’ Donuts announced Wednesday that it is phasing out its landfill-clogging polystyrene foam cups in favor of paper cups. The company’s plan, which kicks off this spring in New York City and California restaurants with a targeted worldwide completion date of 2020, will prevent nearly 1 billion foam cups from entering the waste stream each year—and that’s a pretty good thing!
Buckingham Palace outlined new waste plans and said there was a ‘strong desire to tackle the issue’ at the highest levels of the Royal household.
It is thought that the Queen became personally interested in the problem of plastic after working with Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary dealing with wildlife in the Commonwealth.
The new measures include gradually phasing out plastic straws in public cafes and banning them altogether in staff dining rooms.
Large filter feeders, such as baleen whales and basking sharks, could be particularly at risk from ingesting the tiny plastic particles, say scientists.
Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study suggests.
Species such as baleen whales and basking sharks, which feed through filtering seawater for plankton, are ingesting the tiny particles of indigestible plastic which now appear to permeate oceans throughout the world. Some of these species have evolved to swallow hundreds or even thousands of cubic metres of seawater a day, but taking in microplastic can block their ability to absorb nutrients, and may have toxic side-effects.
The new study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, advises more research on the megafauna of the oceans, as the effects of microplastics on them is currently not well understood. Scientists have found, for instance through examining the bodies of beached whales, large pieces of plastic in the guts of such creatures, but the effect of microplastics, though less obvious, may be just as harmful.