The effects of plastic pollution

Plastic pollution on Animals

Ingestion: Marine animals always mistake plastic pieces for food. For instance, bird species, namely pelicans or albatross, will mistake pieces of plastic for little fish. As the animal ingests the plastic, its body cannot digest it. The plastic objects will remain in the animal’s stomach leading it to feel full.

Hence the animal will eventually stop eating its real food source. Ingestion can destroy to the digestive system of marine life, lead to malnutrition, dehydration and starvation. SOS is strongly concerned about ingestion, as our beaches are littered with little plastic pieces that can simply be mistaken for food by birds and other wildlife here in the Monterey Area.

Suffocation: Animals can suffocate on plastic pollution, namely plastic bags and six pack holders, which can block air passage ways as well as inhibit normal growth objects. A popular instance consists of sea turtles who try and ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish (their favorite food). Sometimes the plastic bag is too giant for the animal to digest and the turtle will suffocate.

This can happen as common items like fishing line, strapping groups and six-pack rings hamper the mobility of marine animals. As entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing as well as swimming, all of which can have fatal results.

The effect of plastics on Humans

Plastic is made of petroleum (oil or natural gas) and toxic chemicals that are always not found on labels, but can be toxic to humans and animals nonetheless. Two instances of harmful chemicals found in common plastic objects include: (1) Phthalates: chemicals spent to create soft and flexible plastics that are commonly spent in the food and construction industries, as well as in beauty cosmetics, pesticides, wood finishes, insect repellents as well as solvents. Researches have found abnormal male sexual improvement, infertility, premature breast improvement cancer, miscarriage, premature birth and asthma, all related with exposure to phthalates. (2) Bisphenol-A (BPA) is the chemical name for polycarbonate plastics, found out in everything from five-gallon water jugs, to baby bottles and the lining in a lot of cans of food, like baby formula.

Studies of Bisphenol-A show it is an estrogen disrupter with the capability to migrate into liquids and foods that it reaches into contact with (Earth Resource, 2000). Numerous researches have found unsafe stages of BBB in children, adults, baby bottles, water bottles, teethers, baby formula, and other popular household objects.

The Global Perspective

North Pacific Gyre, an area of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Japan, is an accumulation area (gyre means convergence of currents) for plastic pollution known to be at least twice the size of Texas. The North Pacific Gyre shows the largest gyre on Earth and contains approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. In this area of the ocean, researches from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation have pointed out that plastic fragments outnumber zooplankton from 40 and 1!

The Gyre resembles a plastic soup, where little pieces of plastic are not only floating at the surface of the ocean but are suspended in the water column as well. This achieves any cleanup attempt incredibly complicated and that is why many scientists are urging someone to stop the plastic at its source: You, the average spenders.