Plastic Everywhere!

This is from an email I received from by Arthur Firstenberg [cellphonetaskforce.org]

plastic everywhere

“Plastic is choking our oceans and destroying our planet,” said an article in the June 2019 issue of Adidas magazine.It went on: “Plastic is everywhere you look. It’s in food packaging, electronics, cars, toys, credit cards and clothes. Plastic is also everywhere you can’t look. It’s littering uninhabited beaches 3,000 miles from the nearest human being, killing off the plankton that produce our oxygen kilometers beneath the surface of the ocean, and clogging the gullets of albatross chicks in the Pacific. Plastic is also moving through your body, your bloodstream, your organs and those of the people you love.”There is now more than a ton of plastic littering our planet for every person on Earth, says that article.And when plastic bottles and bags break down, they don’t disappear: they turn into what is being called “microplastics,” which can persist for hundreds of years and are filling up our air, water, and soil. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature6.

A large portion of the microplastics in our environment come not from what we ordinarily think of as “plastic,” but are fibers from synthetic clothing that wear away in our washing machines and end up in our rivers and oceans, and particles from automobile tires that wear away on our roads,wash away in the rain,and also end up in our rivers and oceans. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,at the present rate of accumulation, there will be more plastics by weight than fish in our oceans by the year 20487.

It was estimated that between 5 and 13 million metric tons of plastic entered the oceans in 2010, and it was projected that this would increase to between 100and 250 metric tons per year by 20258. All that plastic does not just float on top of the water, it is mixed throughout the ocean and even has been getting deposited in sediments on the ocean floor. A study from Australia that was just published on October 5, 2020 analyzed deep-sea sediments hundreds of kilometers from the Australian shore and found up to 13 fragments of plastic in every gram of sediment they analyzed9. And the world’s plastics are not just ending up in the oceans. We are also breathing them. Scientists at King’s College sampled the air on a nine-story-high riverside rooftop and estimated that an average of 771 particles of plastic were falling from the air everyday onto every square meter of London10.

Janice Brahney, from Utah State University, collected both air and rain samples in national parks and wilderness areas of the United States, and found that an average of 132 particles of plastic were being deposited out of the atmosphere everyday on every square meter of protected U.S. western lands. Many of the particles were small enough to have been transported hundreds or thousands of miles from their place of origin11. A team of German scientists found incredible amounts of plastic even in snow in the Swiss and Bavarian Alps, and in the Arctic. Arctic snow contained an average of 1,760 particles of plastic per liter of snow, with one site containing over 14,000 plastic particles per liter. At one site in the Bavarian Alps there were 154,000 particles of plastic in a liter of snow12.

[6] Boucher J, Friot D 2017. Primary Plastics in the Oceans: A Global Evaluation of Sources. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

[7] Ellen MacArthur Foundation and New Plastic Economy, 2017. The new plastics economy: rethinking the future of plastics & catalysing action.

[8] Jambeck JR et al. 2015. “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean.” Science347: 768-71.

[9] Barrett J et al. 2020. “Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments from the Great Australian Bight.” Frontiers in Marine Science 7:576170.

[10] Wright SL et al.2020. “Atmospheric Microplastic Deposition in an urban environment and an evaluation of transport.”Environment International136:105411.

[11]Brahney J et al. 2020. “Plastic rain in protected areas of the United States.” Science368:1257-60.

[12] Bergmann M et al. 2019. “White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic.” Science Advances5:eaax1157.

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