Garbage spot in the Pacific increases faster than predicted by scientists

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 05.10.2018

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29 July 2018, 09:00

Numerous ocean currents helped to collect in one place a huge amount of drifting plastic. An eerie sight can be observed in the northern zone of the Pacific surface waters. The giant cluster was called the Great Pacific garbage spot. The latest study related to the stain, unpleasantly surprised scientists: the area of the "garbage dump" really reached a gigantic size - more than 1.6 million square kilometers. For clarity, we note that, for example, France covers an area of almost 644 thousand square kilometers.
The dimensions of this almost continent remained unclear for a long time. Experts built various assumptions, according to which the area of the "garbage dump" was estimated at no more than 1.5 million quadrant kilometers. Sadly, but after the measurements, the figure was more impressive, even, given the most pessimistic estimates. To conduct gigantic landfill measurements, scientists used special networks that capture clusters. Also, a complex photographic survey of the "object" was used. The specialists representing the Ocean Cleanup Foundation were engaged in studying the problem area. As a result of the measurements, the true dimensions of the "dump" were clarified.
By area, the Great Pacific Trash is currently 1.6 million square kilometers. This territory can accommodate several such states as Germany, Spain, France. According to the research, this cluster contains more than 80 thousand tons of plastic waste - 1.8 trillion plastic particles. Most of the spot - about 94% - is represented by microplastic, that is, a substance whose particles do not exceed 5 mm in diameter.
Garbage accumulation on the Pacific water surfaces has been "collected" for several decades. Investigating and analyzing the elements that make up the stain, experts identified plastic containers, bottles, boxes, parts of packages, polyethylene, lids and fishing nets. Some samples at the time of analysis were about 40 years old. The plastic debris that found itself in the ocean waters as a result of the famous Japanese tsunami that took place in 2011 was also found in fairly large quantities. The share of such plastic in the total pile of garbage is about 15%. These results were unveiled by Laurent LeBreton, who published the relevant material in Scientific Reports.
A plastic cloud is not just a lack of order in nature. Waste enters the digestive organs of birds and animals, causing intoxication in fish.
The plastic contains toxic substances and is additionally capable of absorbing various organic components that have a harmful effect on living beings. Especially often such harm affects the reproductive function of animals.
A little earlier, experts have already proved that even fish related to deep water are not protected from the damaging effect of microparticles of plastic, which is present in the surface water layers.

Information is available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22939-w

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