Millions of tons of microplastics in the atlantic, according to a new study. In the upper water layers of the first 200 meters alone, there are approximately 12 to 21 million tons of waste.
This is the conclusion reached by researchers from the national oceanography center (NOC) in great britain, which was published in the journal "nature communications".
Until now, there has been no way for scientists to match the assumed amount of plastic entering the ocean with that in the water because of a lack of microplastic measurements, said study leader katsiaryna pabortsava. "Our research is the first to do this across the atlantic from great britain to the falkland islands."
The NOC researchers calculated the frequency of three different types of plastic, which together accounted for more than half of the world’s plastic waste. To do this, they took samples at a total of 12 locations from three different depths within the first 200 meters below the water surface. They found up to 7000 microplastic particles with a coarseness of at least 0.0032 centimeters per cubic meter of seawater.
The scientists want to use their findings to lay the foundation for a better assessment of the ecological damage caused by microplastics. Until now, there have been no solid estimates of the amount of plastic used, especially in remote places such as the middle of the ocean. The health impact of ubiquitous microplastics on living creatures is a research topic. Such tiny particles have already been detected in snow, food and drinking water, among other things.
In the USA alone, each of the 330 million inhabitants produces around 340 grams of plastic gauze every day, according to a study published a few months ago. Some of it ends up in nature, where it slowly decomposes into smaller and smaller components. The microplastic particles end up in rivers and lakes, the sea, the soil and also the atmosphere. Some of the particles were carried in through the atmosphere, for example by rain – they were so small that they were transported even across continents.