Plastic Contamination In World’s Oceans Affects Human Health, Too

By , in Sci/Tech World on . Tagged width:

Recent years have seen the publication of studies demonstrating that the plastic contamination of the oceans is breaking into fragments that can be eaten by fish. From there, they move up the food chain to the table of any home. The eight million tons of plastic that the oceans receive each year not only kill whales, turtles, and seabirds, but they are already present in the seafood we buy.

This is the message sent by “Micro 2018,” the conference that brings together in Lanzarote the main scientific groups of the world involved in this matter, at the initiative of the Marine Sciences for Society group, UNESCO, and universities such as Cornell from the US, Plymouth from the United Kingdom, Versailles from France, Siena, in Italy, and Las Palmas from Gran Canaria.

“We cannot afford to go on doing nothing. We have reached a level of contamination by plastics that we need to act now”, summarizes one of the scientific coordinators of the conference, Bethany Jorgensen, a¬†researcher at the Civic Ecology Laboratory of Cornell University, in New York.

The experts participating in this Congress take Lanzarote as a reference because this island, recognized as a Biosphere Reserve 25 years ago, has been presenting plastics contamination for a decade since its beaches began to fill up with plastics dragged by the Canary Current from multiple points of the Atlantic.

Plastic Contamination In World’s Oceans Affects Human Health, Too

“Thousands of small colorful fragments appeared on the beach, which were even beautiful, but it was totally artificial. What were they? Where did they come from? What did they suppose? Eight years later we already have much more knowledge of what is happening. Plastic is entering the trophic chain”, points out another author of the study, Aquilino Miguelez.

In recent years, many research has been published showing that plastic contamination in the world’s oceans is indeed a reality. “Do we eat plastic? Yes, and we drink it too,” said Jorgensen. “It’s in fish, mussels, other mollusks, shellfish, but we also find microplastics and microfibres in water systems, both in tap water and in bottled water. We’ve even found microplastics in beer,” he says.

Bethany Jorgensen stresses that all the substances are of concern not only because of their composition but also because many of them take from the ocean other types of bioaccumulative substances, such as POPs (persistent organic pollutants), which reinforce their potential to cause harm to fauna or humans. The scientist believes there is an urgent need for action