Toxic Effects of Ocean Plastic Far Greater Than Previously Thought
When dead seabirds washed up in their thousands along the eastern and southern seaboards of Australia last year, biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers became worried . . .
A research fellow at the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies in Hobart, Dr Lavers had been studying flesh-footed shearwaters, also known as mutton birds, for nearly a decade.
She knew that mass deaths, known as “wrecks”, were not uncommon for the migratory shearwaters which travel huge distances from the Bering Sea to Australia every year.
Wrecks of seabirds traditionally occur every ten years or so as a result of large storms or lack of food. They begin in September as the birds arrive exhausted from their travels and usually last a couple of weeks.
But the wreck last year continued for an unprecedented four months, and dead birds appeared in the tens of thousands on beaches from Mackay in Queensland to Albany in Western Australia . . .
[Dr Lavers] has been studying the effects of plastic on shearwaters and says that while there are many contributing factors to wrecks, recent research indicates plastic is having a far more toxic effect on seabirds than first understood.
. . . an understanding of the way plastic is impacting our world has taken an alarming turn. In a new area of study, Dr Lavers joined forces with neurologist Professor Richard Banati from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
Professor Banati had refined a technique called the tracer principle, which involves using slightly radioactive tracers to study and track materials at the molecular level. At ANSTO he has been working on detection of contaminants in a wide range of ecosystems.
It appears that plastic, no matter how small or in what quantities, increases in toxicity the longer it floats in the ocean, the process releasing more and, at the same time, attracting more toxins . . .
As a result of his molecular line of research, Dr Banati says the pervasive nature of plastic requires a rethink.
“A traditional approach to environment management has been ‘the solution to pollution is dilution’. However researchers are becoming concerned about this approach,” he said in a statement.
“Specifically we are finding that mass plastic consumption, together with increased degradability of plastics, may actually lead to a steady increase of hazardous contaminants in the environment which would be difficult to reverse.”
Read full article in Epoch Times.
Link to Concerns at this site.