Tag: plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is increasing in the Arctic Ocean

Plastic debris is increasing in the Fram Strait, east of Greenland. @bberwyn photo.

Study documents rising amount of sea-bottom debris

Staff Report

There’s more direct evidence that plastic pollution is increasing rapidly in the remote Arctic Ocean, according to German scientists, who have tracking sea-bottom litter at two research stations since 2002. The Hausgarten deep-sea observatory network includes a total of 21 stations in the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard.

The Alfred Wegener Institute’s Mine Tekman,  lead author of a new study published in the scientific journal Deep-Sea Research I, said the long-term monitoring confirms that the amount of plastic litter has increased rapidly in the past 15 years.  Other scientists with the AWI have also documented evidence of a floating garbage patch starting to form in the Barents Sea region of the Arctic Ocean. Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks. Continue reading “Plastic pollution is increasing in the Arctic Ocean”

Advertisements

USGS study tracks Great Lakes microplastic pollution

ih
A new USGS study has documented widespread plastic pollution in many of the Great Lakes tributary rivers.

New website highlights the widespread problem of plastic debris

Staff Report

Microplastic pollution is widespread in many rivers flowing into the Great Lakes, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who recently took water samples from 29 Great Lakes tributaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and New York. The researchers found microplastics in all those streams, which together make up about 22 percent of the water flowing into the Great Lakes.

Earlier studies have found microplastics in the Great Lakes at similar concentrations as in some of the most polluted parts of the world’s oceans, as well as in the St. Lawrence River. And several other studies have found that microplastic pollution is pretty much everywhere.

Microplastics are created when plastic bottles and bags degrade, and are used in some cleansing products like toothpaste and lotions. The pollution is ubiquitous in nearly all the world’s waters. The results of the in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and are also posted on a new USGS microplastics website. Continue reading “USGS study tracks Great Lakes microplastic pollution”

Environment: Congress passes plastic microbead ban

asfg
Microplastic pollution from the Rhine River. Photo courtesy University of Basel.

New law seen as big win for aquatic environments

Staff Report

After years of studies showing how plastic microbeads are polluting streams, lakes and oceans, the U.S. is set to adopt a new law that will phase out the manufacture of plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017 and the sale of beauty products containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2018.

Similar to California’s historic microbead ban signed into law earlier this year, the Microbead Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) bans all plastic microbeads, including those made from so-called “biodegradable plastics,” the majority of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.

The law is a big win for the environment, where the microbeads have been found in birds, crabs and fish, making their way through the food chain.

One recent study found that up to 90 percent of all seabirds have ingested plastic microparticles. In Australia, researchers say that plastic pollution adds insult to injury for already stressed corals along the Great Barrier Reef. And the problem won’t disappear with a ban — the plastic particles are also building up in ocean sediments. Continue reading “Environment: Congress passes plastic microbead ban”

Rhine River plastic pollution is the highest measured

3.9 million plastic items per square kilometer …

asfg
A sample from the Rhine near Duisburg shows the variety of plastic pollution found in the water. Photo courtesy University of Basel.

Staff Report

Given the fact that microplastic debris is so widespread, it’s probably no surprise that the Rhine — Europe’s workhorse river — has been found to be among the most polluted by plastic.

The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area has the highest concentration, at about 2,333,665 particles per square kilometer, with a peak at Rees on the Nederhijn, where 3.9 million plastic items per square kilometer (or 21,839 particles per 1000 cubic meters) were found in a single water sample. In general, extreme peaks may be reached after heavy rain or accidents. Continue reading “Rhine River plastic pollution is the highest measured”

New Arctic Ocean garbage patch may be forming

The five major ocean gyres.
Is another garbage patch forming in the Arctic?

Science ship documents plastic debris near Greenland; northern Europe eyed as source

Staff Report

Scientists aboard a German research vessel say they’ve started documenting plastic debris on the surface of the Arctic Ocean, creating new problems for marine life in the environmentally sensitive region.

Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks. The plastic litter reported from the Fram Strait could be leaking from a new garbage patch forming in the Barents Sea, the researchers concluded in their study, published in the scientific journal Polar Biology. Continue reading “New Arctic Ocean garbage patch may be forming”

Environment: California to ban plastic microbeads

This image captured by an electron microscope shows polyethylene microbeads widely used in shower gel. Photo courtesy Thompson/Bakir/Plymouth University.
This image captured by an electron microscope shows polyethylene microbeads widely used in shower gel. Photo courtesy Thompson/Bakir/Plymouth University.

New law could help spur companies to reduce use of harmful plastics in personal care products

Staff Report

Just a few weeks after scientists issued a strongly worded call for a ban on plastic microbeads, California did just that, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new that will phase out the use of microbeads in beauty products by 2020.

The tiny plastic particles, used in common products like facial scrubs and toothpaste, have become a pollution scourge, with millions of tons bypassing water treatment and filtration and ending up in rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Biologists say that nearly all marine organisms are at risk from ingesting the tiny plastic bits. Up to 90 percent of all seabirds have already eaten plastic, and scientists have also documented the potential harm to sediment-dwelling worms, as well as crabs. Basically, microplastic pollution is everywhere. Continue reading “Environment: California to ban plastic microbeads”

Environment: There’s a plan to curb ocean plastic pollution

dfg
A seal trapped in plastic debris. Photo courtesy EwanEdwards/TheClippertonProject.

8 million tons of plastic waste (and counting) go into the oceans each year …

Staff Report

Slowing the waste stream in five key countries could go a long way toward reducing ocean plastic pollution, according to a new report from Ocean Conservancy. The report outlines a plan that targets the elimination of plastic waste leakage in China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, estimated to account for half of all global plastic leakage.

Medium- and short-term goals include speeding waste collection and staunching post-collection leakage, followed by the development and rollout of commercially viable treatment options. For the long term, the report says it’s critical to find innovative recovery and treatment technologies, and to develop new materials and product designs that better facilitate reuse or recycling. Continue reading “Environment: There’s a plan to curb ocean plastic pollution”