Microplastic litter surging globally: study

August 14, 2016
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The researcher team from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology published the study about the danger of plastic waste fragments in the sea. Its volume has sharply increased around the world in the 21st century, says the lead author professor Hideshige Takada. 

The Japanese scientists found that a concentration of microplastics, defined as plastic particles up to 5 mm in size, is higher in sediment than in sea water. Such a fact is raising concerns of marine biologists because plastic could affect organisms living in and on the bottom of the ocean. Professor Takada explains the danger of such small plastic particles:

“Sediment is becoming one of the places where microplastics build up. There is an urgent need to deal with the situation by reducing the use of plastic.”

In the published study, the researcher team examined samples of sediment collected from the sea bottom and in different other areas including Tokyo, Southeast Asia and Africa. Microplastic particles’ source is mostly plastic bags or containers broken down by water and UV-rays. The scientists found that microbeads used in scrubs, toothpaste and other cosmetics are a common part of the microplastic.

The marine biologists and ecologists say that microplastic is absorbing hazardous chemicals, that is very dangerous for the sea birds and fish. These creatures can mistakenly eat plastic.

Professor Takada notes that quantity of microplastic particles per 10 grams of mud is raising. For example, in 1900s it was 10, in 1950s — 80, and now — 2000 in average. The study signals that the sea ecosystems around the world this century is contaminating year by year.

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