Plastic poisoning our oceans? Study shows microbeads doing damage as well
FORT PIERCE (CBS12) —
Scientists say we are headed toward destruction of our fisheries.
The reason? We are flushing billions of pieces of plastic into the ocean daily.
Scientists now say, not just our trash, but our clothing is polluting the ocean.
Microbeads was the answer to a deeper clean. Microbeads give the feel of sandpaper to your face wash or cleanser. So, every time you brush or wash or clean with products that have microbeads, they end up in the ocean.
It totals an estimated 8 trillion microbeads a day, with enough plastic to cover 300 tennis courts. All of these tiny plastic particles wouldn't be such a problem if they quickly broke down into simpler chemical forms, but plastic molecules are very resilient and could remain intact to threaten the environment for thousands of years.
See video on new Florida plastic study : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMrUsQgFWZs
"Unfortunately none of these microplastics or any of the other plastics that go into the water are not biodegradable and they all pass through our wastewater treatment plants,"
said Leroy Creswell, St Lucie County Master Gardner Supervisor to the local Microplastic Awareness Project researchers, "They all break down into smaller and smaller bits and pieces to where they might be one tenth of an inch."
The beads soak up pesticides and chemicals after they are washed down the drain.
"By the time the plastic gets downstream towards the ocean, they become these toxic pieces of plastic," he said. "As it travels, it is picking up all kinds of industrial chemicals and pollutants."
The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project (FMAP) is a citizen-science project that was funded in 2015 by an outreach and education grant from NOAA's Marine Debris Program. Volunteer citizens are collecting coastal water samples, filtering them and looking for microplastics.
Creswell's samples from the inlet and lagoon in Fort Pierce show a disturbing trend.
"All of these microplastics have the ability of being carriers of various pollutants, toxins, bacteria like Vibrio, and we are really at the tip of the iceberg to realize what all they do carry," Creswell said, "they are finding microbeads--things in our personal care products. But, they are also finding a fair of fibers. So now it's just starting to really come to the surface of what we are seeing out here."
"Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment and for us are ubiquitous in our homes," Creswell said, "exfoliants, toothpaste, skin cleaners but they are also found in some of the household cleansers."
Not only self-care products, but even down to our polyester clothing when we wash. In fact, there twice as many plastic clothing fibers than microbeads in our waterways, and we release them every time we do a load of laundry.
"All the acrylic clothing that we wear, when this goes into the laundry, plastic fibers escape and go down the drain." Creswell said.
The NOAA Microplastic Awareness Project is a national program to catalogue the damage done to the ocean by plastic products.
Be plastic aware: http://stjohns.ifas.ufl.edu/sea/microplastics/index.html
Those tiny pieces of plastic get eaten, then passed on. This spreads the pollution and bacteria into the food chain.
If the bacteria- laden plastic bits get consumed up the food chain, scientists say it's possible we will begin to find it sickening or poisoning fisheries.