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Where does all the plastic go? University of Southampton has some answers...     Προσθέθηκε στις: 13/08/2007
 

Where does all the plastic go?

News release
From the University of SouthamptonRef: 04/64
7 May 2004

A team of expert marine biologists and chemists has carried out research which
proves for the first time that oceans and shores are contaminated with
microscopic fragments and fibres of plastic.
Eight scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Plymouth and the
Plymouth-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science have today (Friday
7 May) published their findings in the prestigious international journal
Science.
The article 'Lost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic?' provides a snapshot of the
extent of contamination of marine habitats by microscopic plastic fragments. The
results of the project, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, show
conclusively that microscopic plastics are now common in marine habitats. It is
already known that large items of plastic debris are accumulating in the seas
and on shorelines, harming marine life including turtles, fish, seabirds and
mammals.
Samples were collected around the Plymouth coastline and then analyzed at
Southampton by University chemist Dr Andrea Russell using a technique called
Fourier Transform-Infra Red spectroscopy. Various fibres were identified,
including nylon, polyethylene acrylic and other synthetic polymers. These
polymers are used for a wide range of domestic and industrial products, such as
clothing, packaging and rope, which indicates that these fragments are the
result of larger items disintegrating.
Speaking about the research Dr Russell said: 'Some of the particles we
identified in the samples were of natural origin and others could not be
identified. However, about one-third were synthetic polymers and we conclusively
identified nine of these. They were present in most samples, but were
considerably more abundant in subtidal sediment.'
Dr Richard Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Marine Ecology at the University of
Plymouth and head of the research team, commented: 'Given the durability of
plastics and the disposable nature of many plastic items, this type of
contamination is likely to increase. Our team is now working to identify the
possible environmental consequences of this new form of contamination.'

 

 

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