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Spanish investigators discover high levels of plastic in oceans

English.news.cn   2014-07-02 08:04:06

MADRID, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Investigators from the University in Cadiz, in southwest Spain, have discovered that mass-produced plastic is present on the surface of almost all of the oceans of the world.

The findings of the group, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, show that plastic waste is present on 88 percent of the world's ocean surface.

This discovery is based on over 3,000 samples which were taken during an expedition in 2010 in the course of which they discovered large accumulations of plastic in the center of the North and South Atlantic, the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The study also highlights that the surface of the ocean may not be the final destination of plastic residue known as "microplastics".

"Ocean currents carry plastic objects, which split into smaller fragments due to solar radiation. These pieces of plastic, known as microplastics can last hundreds of years," explained lead researcher, Andres Cozar.

"The microplastics then influence the food chain of marine organisms ... and can lead to intestinal blockages, which is one of the main problems with this kind of residue," said the investigator from the University of Cadiz.

One positive side effect is that the accumulations of "plastic islands" allows "many small organisms to navigate and colonize places which had previously been inaccessible to them," but Cozar warns that "the main part of the impact on the ocean that is being caused by contamination by plastic is still unknown."

Finally the study showed the total amount of plastic in the world oceans to be between 10,000 and 40,000 tones.

"We need to design plastic products in a way that permits the sustainable use of such material. The oceans are not big enough to hide all of the plastic rubbish we create," warns Cozar.

Editor: Mengjie
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