Plastic Debris Found Littering Ocean

Plastic Debris Found Littering Ocean

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There’s far more little bits of plastic in the ocean than previous studies have indicated, according to new research. While armadas of plastic ducks might make the headlines, it’s tiny pieces that cause most concern to environmentalists. Fish are believed to suffer liver damage from ingesting plastic, for example, and there’s evidence it can even be transferred to people who eat seafood.

While working in the Pacific Ocean, University of Washington oceanographer Giora Proskurowski noticed that while the water was covered with tiny pieces of plastic, most disappeared the moment the wind picked up. And, after taking samples of water at varying depths, he discovered that the wind was pushing the lightweight particles below the surface – meaning that decades of research conducted by skimming the surface have been producing the wrong results. The team developed a mathematical model that incorporates wind measurements to improve estimates of how much plastic waste is in our oceans.

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