Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications. At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.
Plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.
Plastic pollution is the most widespread problem affecting the marine environment. Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey, and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris. Floating plastics also contribute to the spread of invasive marine organisms and bacteria, which disrupt ecosystems.
Impacts on food and health
- Invisible plastic has been identified in tap water, salt and are present in all samples collected in the world’s oceans, including the Arctic.
- Several chemicals used in the production of plastic materials are known to be carcinogenic and interfere with the body’s endocrine system, causing developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders in both humans and wildlife.
- When marine organisms ingest plastic debris, these contaminants enter their digestive systems, and overtime accumulate in the food web.
- The transfer of contaminants between marine species and humans through consumption of seafood has been identified as a health hazard, but has not yet been adequately researched.
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