Some 14 million tonnes of microplastics pollute ocean floor: study

Sydney, Australia, Oct 6 (efe-epa).- There are about 14 million tonnes of microplastics on the seafloor, an Australian study published on Tuesday revealed.

This is 25 times higher than what previous studies had shown.

“Our research found that the deep ocean is a sink for microplastics,” said Denise Hardesty, Principal Research Scientist and co-author of the study conducted by the Australian government agency responsible for scientific research, CSIRO.

The study, which is the first ever global estimate for microplastics on the seafloor, also reveals that the number of these small particles of plastic at the bottom of the oceans is generally higher in areas where there is a greater amount of floating garbage, even in remote parts of the planet.

“The results show microplastics are indeed sinking to the ocean floor,” said Justine Barrett from CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere who led the study.

“Even the deep ocean is susceptible to the plastic pollution problem,” she added.

The study by the CSIRO scientists carried out using a robotic submarine, which collected samples off the coast of southern Australia at a depth of three kilometers (1.86 miles), indicates that the amount of plastic on the seafloor is 25 times higher than previously believed, according to the statement released by the agency.

Based on the results of the density of the plastics found in the deep ocean offshore from South Australia and scaling up to the size of the ocean, the researchers estimated the total amount of microplastics on the seafloor around the world to be about 14 million tonnes.

Experts estimate that at least eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the sea every year, which after decomposing become tiny particles that are ingested by fish and even the phytoplankton that form the base of the marine food chain.

Hardesty said that plastic pollution of the world’s oceans was a globally recognized environmental problem and that “by identifying where and how much microplastic there is, we get a better picture of the extent of the problem.”

“This will help to inform waste management strategies and create behavioural change and opportunities to stop plastic and other rubbish entering our environment,” she added. EFE-EPA


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