According to University of California, Davis, about 25% of the fish that were examined in California and Indonesia came with plastic particles, clothing or other man-made synthetic products in their guts.
The study’s evidence only confirms what scientists have already suspected: that thrash and debris dumped into the ocean waters by humans would eventually be swallowed by the sea animals we eat.
Though people generally do not eat fish guts, it is very unlikely for humans to ingest the plastic particles and other materials these fish swallowed. However, the plastic fragments that are in the water often act as absorbents for all kind of chemical pollutants from the ocean. That means the chemicals the fish once ate could find their way in their flesh, and evidently, in humans.
After a recent study which found that 8 billion microbeads end up in the United States water environments every day, this study from the UC Davis advised that microbeads should be banned. In fact, the study was released as a bill that is currently awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.
Microbeads are tiny plastic particles that are generally found in products such as toothpaste and skin exfoliants. They pose a great problem since they usually are thrown down the sink, from where they end up directly into ocean waters. Some products contain as much as 350,000 microbeads per box.
The good news is that there are several alternatives for plastic microbeads, for instance, some products use biodegradable materials such as apricot shells.
Another common plastic pollutant in the oceans are plastic bags. Nationwide efforts to lower the number of such bags to enter the ocean were futile.
The most ridiculous thing is that plastic products, ranging from beads to plastic bags or other one-time plastic products, are not even necessary, according to environmental experts. The environmental community, along with most researchers, decided that the best way to fight plastic pollution is by cutting its supply, by figuring out how to use less of the material in the first place.
The University of California, Davis, found in their study that the type of materials they found in the fish guts were different from one region to another. In Indonesia, plastic was more predominant, whereas in California, most of the debris consisted of clothing fibers, probably from washing machines that dumped tiny parts of clothes in the sewers.
The United States sewer system is severely flawed according to environmental experts and analysts, because it empties directly into the ocean, compared to other parts of the world, such as Europe and Japan, which are recycling a big portion of the circulating water.
Photo credits: Wikimedia