Friday 25th of May 2018

plastic bits in fishes...



The bottom of Sydney Harbour has been contaminated by widespread microplastic pollution which could be entering the food chain, scientists say.

Professor Emma Johnston from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science said the microplastics, or fragments of plastic less than five millimetres long, represented the "emergence of new contaminants in our harbours and waterways".

In the first study of its kind, 27 sites were tested across the harbour, with researchers discovering up to 60 microplastics per 100 milligrams of sediment.

The environmental effects of the contaminants are largely unknown, but there have been moves to ban their use in products overseas.

Professor Johnston said some of the microplastic contamination was coming directly into the harbour.

read more:


There is a rising concern regarding the accumulation of floating plastic debris in the open ocean. However, the magnitude and the fate of this pollution are still open questions. Using data from the Malaspina 2010 circumnavigation, regional surveys, and previously published reports, we show a worldwide distribution of plastic on the surface of the open ocean, mostly accumulating in the convergence zones of each of the five subtropical gyres with comparable density. However, the global load of plastic on the open ocean surface was estimated to be on the order of tens of thousands of tons, far less than expected. Our observations of the size distribution of floating plastic debris point at important size-selective sinks removing millimeter-sized fragments of floating plastic on a large scale. This sink may involve a combination of fast nano-fragmentation of the microplastic into particles of microns or smaller, their transference to the ocean interior by food webs and ballasting processes, and processes yet to be discovered. Resolving the fate of the missing plastic debris is of fundamental importance to determine the nature and significance of the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean.

read more:

Picture at top by Gus: Glebe, Sydney Harbour, Australia...


inbuilt obsolescence in plastic for profit...

see also:


One of the most insidious plastics in this are the bio-degradables... Because they degrade into small bits. They do not really dissolve. Most plastics degrade nonetheless but they do not DECOMPOSE, unlike other bio-stuff into recyclable life molecules... Some of these plastic are also low grade — like polyethylene that do not have any resistance to sunlight, thus break up into small bits unless other chemicals are added. 

Some plastics items are also made "brittle" in order to increase obsolescence and increase the production of plastics for profit...

ban the microbeads...


Plastic pollution in the marine environment is a “critical problem” for global ecosystems and for human health as microscopic pieces of waste enter the food chain, an Australian Senate inquiry has been told.

The warning came as Guardian Australia learned the federal health minister has the power to instantly ban controversial plastic microbeads from products like soap and toothpaste without any new legislation, according to official parliamentary advice.

Marine biologist Jennifer Lavers told the first day of the inquiry in Sydney on Thursday that she discovered more than one in 10 young flesh-footed shearwater birds – common visitors to Australian coasts – were dying from ingesting plastic or from plastic chemical contamination. “This would be happening in other species as well,” she said.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who instigated the inquiry, said the issue of plastic pollution in water was one of the main reasons he got into politics.

“I’ve been a surfer all my life, it’s probably my key passion,” he said. “It’s such a massive problem you don’t even know where to start. But I was determined to get started and that’s one of the reasons I went into parliament.”

A marine microbiologist, Mark Browne from the University of New South Wales, told the inquiry that plastic debris, particularly microplastics, has been recognised as a “critical problem for global conservation and human health” by the UN, European Union, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CSIRO.

Much of this rubbish accumulates in large ocean gyres, which are circular currents that collect plastics in a particular area. Each major ocean has a plastic-filled gyre.

Large pieces of plastic are known to kill marine life including fish, turtles and birds.

But a particularly harmful form of plastic pollution is microplastic, which cannot be easily seen by eye. Microplastics are pieces of plastic smaller than 1mm that can be consumed by many organisms and then accumulate in the food chain.

Microplastics are created as larger pieces of plastic pollution, like bags and bottles, but slowly break up into smaller and smaller pieces. They are also added directly as “microbeads” to many cosmetics including body washes, soaps and toothpaste to increase their abrasiveness.

In a submission to the inquiry, the Boomerang Alliance pointed to a study from 2014 that estimated seafood consumers in Europe eat up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic each year. Understanding of the effects of microplastics on human health is limited but they are known to deliver toxic chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA) into the body, which could cause a range of issues including developmental and reproductive problems.

In the US, some states have banned microbeads in cosmetics and the House of Representatives passed a bill that will ban them nationally if passed by the Senate.

Last year, state ministers agreed to work towards a voluntary agreement to phase out microbeads by July 2018.

But advice to Whish-Wilson from the parliamentary library, seen by Guardian Australia, says the key mechanism that would allow microbeads to be banned in Australia is simply for the minister of health to do so with the strike of a pen. Under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act, the minister can list ingredients that are not allowed to be used in cosmetics – including soaps and toothpaste – that are manufactured or imported into Australia.


read more:


Read also: 

inbuilt obsolescence in plastic for profit...

see also:


the plasticrapeocene..

Teenage turtles like Cliff are lucky to be rescued, because many are dying after eating hidden plastic pollution in Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River when they come in summer to feed on seagrass meadows.

The Taronga Wildlife Hospital is treating a juvenile turtle dubbed Clifton, because it was found at Clifton Gardens on the north shore.

Hospital manager, Libby Hall, said snorkelers discovered the turtle on December 28. It could not swim or feed because it had ingested plastic.

"He was found covered in barnacles. He had barnacles all over his eyes. All over his shell," Ms Hall said.


read more:


read from top...

using a big comb to remove plastics...

For a long time, though, no real progress was made. At one point, Hansch even came close to throwing in the towel, but then she agreed to give one last presentation. It could have been the last speech she ever gave on the subject, but during the delivery, she had an epiphany and realized just how important it had become to her. "It became clear to me that I couldn't just leave it behind," she says.

A short time later, Hansch and her fellow campaigners started a non-profit organization called Pacific Garbage Screening. The roughly 35 members of the NGO, including engineers, environmental scientists and biologists, are working towards the day when the platform can finally be deployed. They perform research on a voluntary basis and cover most of the costs out of their own pockets.

The university in Aachen continues to provide support for the project. Thesis papers are regularly written that contribute to the project's research foundations. A postgraduate position has also been funded by UBA, the German government's environmental protection agency. In 2016, Hansch and her team won the German Federal Ecodesign Award for the project, a prize awarded by UBA and the Environment Ministry. During the award speech, UBA Vice President Thomas Holzmann praised the project as being "both visionary and solution-oriented." 

'There's Enough Plastic in the Ocean for All'

There are several projects around the world pursuing goals similar to Hansch's. In the Netherlands, for example, Project Ocean Cleanup is hoping to begin fishing plastic out of the ocean later this year. Hansch says she doesn't view these other projects as competition. "There's enough plastic in the ocean for everyone," she says. Plus, the different teams talk and share ideas, allowing them to learn from each other. Still, her project is the only one that is focused specifically on microplastics, she says.


Read more:


Read from top...

too dead for fish to even eat the plastic bits...

Name: Point Nemo.

Age: First discovered in 1992 by survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela.

Appearance: A load of water, surrounded by even more water.

How do I get there? I wouldn’t bother: the trip would involve a tremendous amount of effort for very little in the way of return.

So what’s the point of Point Nemo? It’s officially the oceanic pole of inaccessibility.

What does that even mean? It’s the spot in the ocean farthest away from land in any direction – in effect, the middle of nowhere.

And where is that, exactly? Point Nemo is located at 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, more than 1,600km away from three equidistant islands, including Easter Island.

That does sound a faff to get to. So much so that often the closest humans to Point Nemo are aboard the International Space Station.

What lives there? Is it teeming with deep-sea life? Not really. It sits within a current called the South Pacific Gyre, which steers away nutrient-rich waters, making it one of the most lifeless parts of the ocean.

Does Point Nemo have anything going on? Yes. Plastics.

Plastics? Up to 26 microplastic particles per cubic metre were found in seawater samples collected near Point Nemo by passing vessels taking part in the Volvo Open Race.

Was it left there by the guy who discovered the place? No. Lukatela “found” Point Nemo not by visiting, but by calculating its position using computer software. It’s just general plastic.

You mean the most remote point on the planet is polluted? I’m afraid so, although not as polluted as, say, the South China Sea, where they found 357 particles per cubic metre.


Read more:


Read from top...

the birds that eat plastic...

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”


Read more: