A new report from the University of Ghent in Belgium describes how tiny pieces of plastic, called microplastics, accumulate in our bodies and could have long term implications for our health. Much of this microplastic is ingested by eating seafood, in fact it is estimated that 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic are consumed annually on average. How much of this becomes embedded in human tissue is uncertain, however this amount will only get greater as plastic pollution in the ocean increases. (photo – The Telegraph, UK)
“Plastic particles in the body are a concern” stated Dr. Colin Janssen, who led the research into plastic microbeads. “We have established that they do enter the body and can stay for quite a while….are chemicals leaching out of these plastics and causing toxicity….we need to know.”
Like Diamonds, Microplastics are Forever
Since the 1950’s plastics have found their way into every aspect of our lives – polystyrene, polyester, PVC, nylon and especially that scourge of the sea: the throwaway polythene bag. Today our annual global production of plastics has reached an astonishing 311 million tonnes – and over 40% of that is for single-use packing. The ubiquitous plastic “peanuts” are a good example. Recently microbeads (the tiny plastic balls used in “brightening” toothpaste and facial scrubs) have received a lot of attention, resulting in a U.S. ban. However it is the single-use plastic packaging that is the real culprit and the fact that the durability of plastic is now more curse than blessing.
Although most plastics don’t biodegrade they do photodegrade in sunlight, breaking up into ever-smaller pieces that pass through waste treatment systems, eventually making their way to the ocean and into the bellies of fish, marine mammals, shellfish and humans and they don’t taste good. Read The Guardian From Sea to Plate.
James Bond never ate fish and chips like these
A recent study by Plymouth University caused a stir when it was reported that plastic was found in a third of fish caught in the UK, especially cod, haddock and mackerel plus shellfish. A just released feature-length documentary, A Plastic Ocean, is helping to focus attention on this issue, while a campaign group A Plastic Planet. is lobbying supermarkets in the Uk to create plastic-free aisles. (photo – Getty/The Guardian)
See our related post on Leonardo DiCaprio’s purchase of a Farmed Fish company, is farming seafood the answer to diminished fish stocks?? See: DiCaprio Finds Ocean Conservation in Farmed Seafood
The Prince of Wales commented on all this by adding “I find it sobering to think that almost all the plastic ever produced is still here somewhere on the planet in one form or another and will remain here for centuries to come, possibly thousands of years.” (photo – The Telegraph, UK)
Breaking News: What can tuna tell us about mercury emissions?
Five Trillion Pieces of Microplastics
It is estimated that in excess of five trillion pieces of microplastic are now in our oceans and more plastic is added every second, taking decades to break down and never completely disappearing. (photo – Rick Carey, Shutterstock)
Read the entire article by Sarah Knapton. Science Editor for The Telegraph and published to coincide with the launch of Sky Ocean Rescue’s campaign to inform and educate the public about microplastics in our ocean and to inspire them to change their behavior, make sustainable choices and dramatically reduce their everyday plastic waste. Visit the campaign website at: www.skyoceanrescue.com
Breaking News: check our latest post on What You can do to Stop Ocean Plastic Debris
Breaking News: check our latest post: In the Swim with Plastics Recovered From the Sea
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