Tiny bits of plastic are a significant part of global pollution

Ocean plastic pollution is an urgent and global problem … Most of the attention paid to the issue has focused on daily-use goods such as food and consumer product packaging. However, Pew found that tiny fragments known as microplastics make up significant amounts of ocean plastic pollution that are often not accounted for in pollution estimates or possible solutions …

Although there is no standard definition of microplastics, they are commonly defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters—about the diameter of a standard pencil eraser. Despite their size, studies have shown that microplastics are major contributors to plastic pollution and are found widely in the environment—from high up Mount Everest to the deep sea—and even in humans and other animals …

Alarming studies regularly come out with new information about the impacts and growing scale of the microplastics problem, but there is still hope for fixing it. With concerted action that begins now, we can greatly reduce the plastic pollution flowing into our lands, rivers, and oceans over the next two decades.

RTFA, learn more about the problem and check out some of the latest ideas on how to counter this flavor of pollution. Too many of our politicians think the only side they need to defend is the one that brings jobs to their local voters … and campaign dollar$ into their bank account.

16 thoughts on “Tiny bits of plastic are a significant part of global pollution

  1. Mr. McGuire says:

    ‘Great concern’ as new study finds microplastics in human placentas : The microplastics probably entered the women’s bodies through ingestion and inhalation, and then translocated to the placentas, the study suggests. https://www.eco-business.com/news/great-concern-as-new-study-finds-microplastics-in-human-placentas/
    Babies May Be Drinking Millions of Microplastic Particles a Day : Scientists discover that baby bottles shed up to 16 million bits of plastic per liter of fluid. What that means for infants’ health, no one can yet say. https://www.wired.com/story/babies-may-be-drinking-millions-of-microplastic-particles-a-day/
    Previous research has estimated that adults consume between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastics particles per year. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517

  2. p/s says:

    Washington State University researchers have shown the fundamental mechanisms that allow tiny pieces of plastic bags and foam packaging at the nanoscale to move through the environment. https://news.wsu.edu/2021/04/28/researchers-find-tiny-plastics-slip-environment/
    The researchers found that a silica surface such as sand has little effect on slowing down the movement of the plastics, but that natural organic matter resulting from decomposition of plant and animal remains can either temporarily or permanently trap the nanoscale plastic particles, depending on the type of plastics.
    The work, published in the journal Water Research, could help researchers develop better ways to filter out and clean up pervasive plastics from the environment. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0043135421002645?via%3Dihub

  3. p/s says:

    A ship’s container lost overboard in the North Atlantic has resulted in printer cartridges washing up everywhere from the coast of Florida to northern Norway, a new study has shown.
    It has also resulted in the items weathering to form microplastics that are contaminated with a range of metals such as titanium, iron and copper.
    The spillage is thought to have happened around 1,500 km east of New York, in January 2014, with the first beached cartridges reported along the coastline of the Azores in September the same year.
    Since then, around 1,500 more have been reported on social media, with the greatest quantities along the coastlines of the UK and Ireland but also as far south as Cape Verde and north to the edge of the Arctic Circle. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/uop-sma042821.php
    The study was conducted by the University of Plymouth and the Lost at Sea Project, who have previously worked together on research suggesting LEGO bricks could survive in the ocean for up to 1,300 years. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/uop-ssl031320.php

  4. Pescadero says:

    Researchers examined the guts of freshwater fish preserved in museum collections; they found that fish have been swallowing microplastics since the 1950s and that the concentration of microplastics in their guts has increased over time. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/fm-fhb042921.php
    “A fish tale: a century of museum specimens reveal increasing microplastic concentrations in freshwater fish” (Ecological Society of America) https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eap.2320

  5. Will C. says:

    “Bacteria-sized robots take on microplastics and win by breaking them down” (American Chemical Society) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/acs-brt060921.php
    “A Maze in Plastic Wastes: Autonomous Motile Photocatalytic Microrobots against Microplastics” (ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces) https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsami.1c04559
    See also “Scientists have devised a novel way of tackling the mounting issue of plastic pollution — by using bacteria to transform plastic waste into vanilla flavoring” (University of Edinburgh) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/uoe-bst061021.php “Researchers say that the vanillin produced would be fit for human consumption but further experimental tests are required.”

  6. Mr. McGuire says:

    URI scientists part of team that points to strong connection between climate change, plastics pollution https://www.uri.edu/news/2021/10/uri-scientists-part-of-team-that-points-to-strong-connection-between-climate-change-plastics-pollution/
    The team identified three significant ways in which the climate crisis and plastics pollution are connected, with the first being how plastic contributes to global greenhouse gases from production through disposal. The second demonstrates how extreme weather, like hurricanes and floods, will disperse and worsen pollution. The third is the effect that climate change and plastics pollution can have on marine species and ecosystems that are vulnerable to both.

  7. Cassandra says:

    Plastic industry pollution to overtake coal in US by 2030, report says : Supply chain for plastic production is rife with carbon emissions. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/10/plastic-industry-pollution-to-overtake-coal-in-us-by-2030-report-says/
    Microplastics may be cooling—and heating—Earth’s climate : Tiny bits of plastic swirling in the sky could be subtly affecting the climate. https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/10/microplastics-may-be-cooling-and-heating-earths-climate/

  8. Superbug says:

    “The Styrofoam container that holds your takeout cheeseburger may contribute to the population’s growing resistance to antibiotics.
    According to scientists at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, discarded polystyrene broken down into microplastics provides a cozy home not only for microbes and chemical contaminants but also for the free-floating genetic materials that deliver to bacteria the gift of resistance.” https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/936766

    p/s: STYROFOAM* is a registered trademark for a line of extruded polystyrene foam products made exclusively by The Dow Chemical Company. ‘Styrofoam’ is colloquially used worldwide to refer to a material that is usually white in color and made of expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam (EPS). It is often used in food containers, coffee cups, and as cushioning material in packaging. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styrofoam

  9. Poco a poco says:

    “The technology group Wärtsilä, together with the shipping company Grimaldi Group, have unveiled a new system that uses exhaust gas scrubber washwater to tackle the amount of microplastics in the world’s oceans; a critical and growing global environmental challenge.
    According to the association Plastic Europe, 368 million tonnes of plastic were produced in 2019 worldwide, and around 3%, or 11.4 million tonnes, of this plastic ultimately ends up in the ocean. To tackle the growing amount of microplastics in the world’s seas, Grimaldi has developed and patented a system that filters out microplastics from open loop scrubber washwater. https://gcaptain.com/wartsila-and-grimaldi-unveil-new-filter-system-to-tackle-ocean-microplastics/ Re: Exhaust Gas Scrubber Washwater Effluent see EPA https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/vgp_exhaust_gas_scrubber.pdf
    The tonne is a metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms. In the U.S. and Canada a ton is defined to be 2,000 pounds (907.18474 kg). The Imperial or long ton is 2,240 pounds (about 1,016 kg) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton

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