Plastic in oceans could triple in a decade!

March 23, 2018

Plastic in your drinking water, plastic particles in lakes and oceans…
Plastic seems to be THE topic of discussion on everyone’s minds this last week, especially following Orb Media’s controversial study revealing a startling concentration of microplastics in many popular bottled water products. The results of the study imply that humans are regularly consuming microplastic particles in their drinking water. Even more concerning, the effects of these plastic particles on human health have not been thoroughly studied and are not known.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken the charge on answering that question as they recently announced that they would be spearheading a study examining the “spread and impact” of microplastics on human health.

While much of buzz is surrounding the effects of microplastics on humans, how do they affect our environment? According to the Foresight Future of the Sea Report for the UK government, “there are also opportunities to cash in on the ocean economy”. With the ocean facilitating a growing number of industries, an increasing amount of microplastic particles are finding their way into the ocean at an alarming rate. In fact, the Sea Report predicts the amount of microplastic particles in oceans to triple between 2015 and 2025. The scale effect of such an increase on marine wildlife would be catastrophic. Eventually, oceanic ecosystems could disappear and negatively impact “higher-up on the food chain” mammals such as humans. Fish in the North Pacific, for example ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfer microplastic particles up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. Some of these fish will be ingested by humans, transferring their concentrations of plastic to their consumer. Aside from the potential health concerns associated with microplastic pollution, the predicted increase of plastic pollution could adversely affect global economic development as the deterioration of oceanic resources would severely limit future economic growth.

While it has been easy to disregard the oceanic pollution as an “out of sight, out of mind” problem, the consequences of such an attitude have now clearly begun to catch up with us.

1. BBC News
2. Center for Biological Diversity