New study finds marine pollution worse than expected

Swimming in the sea, the water is inevitable. But according to a paper published in the journal Lake Marshes and Oceanographic Letters by Jennifer Brandon, a biomarine scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, you’re not just salty water, but more than 400 plastic particles.

New study finds marine pollution worse than expected

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines plastic particles as blocks of plastic less than 5 mm in diameter. Previous studies have suggested that there could be several to hundreds of plastic particles per cubic meter of seawater. However, the traditional way of measuring seawater is filtered with a net, and only plastic particles large enough can be found.

According to statistics, in the 1971-2013 more than 11,000 related experiments, 90% of the use of the same type of network, such a net can only capture more than 333 microns (one-third of the millimeter) diameter of plastic blocks. As Brandon puts it: “For years, we’ve been using the same method to collect samples in webs to study plastic particles. But everything smaller than the grid escapes. “

Brandon then targeted smaller plastic particles between 5 microns and 333 microns in diameter. She uses a polycarbonate filter with a aperture of only 5 microns to filter the sea water and uses a special fluorescence microscope to look for plastic particles. Statistics show that the number of plastic particles per cubic meter of seawater is as high as 8.3 million, hundreds of thousands or even millions of times the previous measurements.

And, as she explains in her paper, “The particles in question have been ruled out, and our estimates are conservative and probably underestimate the total amount of plastic particles.” “

In general, adults drink a mouthful of water volume is about 50 ml. According to Brandon, there are more than 400 plastic particles in a mouthful of seawater.

More notably, Brandon also studied the intake of plastic particles from small marine plankton. She examined 100 water samples collected in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 and found plastic particles in different categories, sea sands, and different stages of life.

At the bottom of the marine food chain, the sea otterfeed feeds on the smallest organisms, such as nanoscale plants and micro-plankton. Plastic sprockets can be spread up the food chain to the creatures they feed on, such as turtles, grouper, king crabs, etc., and may eventually enter the human body. “No one eats sea otters, but it’s not far from what you eat in the food chain. Brandon said.

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The ocean produces half of the earth’s oxygen, and destroying the ocean is actually destroying itself. But since the 1950s, human demand has led to an exponential increase in plastic production, which has seen a flood of plastic into the ocean, where large amounts are broken down into particles. And those at the bottom of the marine food chain are the equivalent of a carrier that “is responsible” for transporting plastic particles layer by layer. Ultimately, these particulate softens spread to deep-sea waters, sediments and animal communities in much greater depth and breadth than expected. If action is not taken, by 2050, the oceans will have more plastic than fish, and even now efforts will be a “battle of the century” against the pollution of marine plastics.

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