Sci­en­tists trace path of in­land plas­tic pol­lu­tion from rivers to ocean

Iran Daily - - Science & Technology -

The prob­lem of plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ocean is much talked about. But where does all that garbage come from? How do plas­tics from in­land cities make their way into the ocean?

In set­ting out to an­swer those ques­tions, a team of re­searchers de­cided to iden­tify 10 rivers around the world where plas­tic waste mis­man­age­ment is most se­vere, UPI re­ported.

The sci­en­tists de­tailed the 10 big­gest plas­tic pol­luters in a new pa­per pub­lished in the jour­nal En­vi­ron­men­tal Science and Tech­nol­ogy.

The myth of gi­ant Àoat­ing patches of garbage has some­times over­shad­owed the re­al­ity of plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ocean.

There are garbage patches, but much of the de­bris con­sists of tiny plas­tic par­ti­cles sus­pended in the ocean.

Un­til now, sci­en­tists didn’t have a de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of how high con­cen­tra­tions of mi­cro plas­tics move from in­land rivers down­stream into the ocean.

The new study prom­ises to ¿ll in the knowl­edge gap and re­trace the mi­croplas­tic con­cen­tra­tion pat­terns.

Sci­en­tists in Ger­many sur­veyed dozens of stud­ies on plas­tic pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing data col­lected from 79 sam­pling sites along 57 rivers.

They dis­cov­ered a strong link be­tween poor plas­tic waste man­age­ment prac­tices and high con­cen­tra­tions of plas­tics in lo­cal water­ways.

The anal­y­sis of Chris­tian Schmidt — re­searcher at the Helmholtz-cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search in Leipzig — and his col­leagues showed just 10 rivers are re­spon­si­ble for 88 to 95 per­cent of plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ocean. Eight of the 10 rivers are in Asia.

Cut­ting plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ten listed rivers could re­duce plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ocean by as much as 45 per­cent.

Be­cause col­lect­ing mi­croplas­tic par­ti­cles from the ocean is nearly im­pos­si­ble, re­searcher said the only ways to curb mi­croplas­tic pol­lu­tion is the stop it at its source and in­ter­cept it along its route to the ocean.

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