In 2010, 8 out of the 275 tons of plastic waste produced in the world ended up in the ocean. For several years now, many scientists have spoken out about the worrying consequences of plastic pollution, and among them the contamination of the food chain on which we all depend.
The core issue: microbeads ocean pollution.
A large part of plastic ocean pollution is due to microbeads.
When we talk about microbeads, we are referring to very small pieces of plastic, less than 5 mm. They can come from already commercialized very small plastic particles or they can be due to the degradation of bigger plastic objects such as bottles, bags, industrials waste, etc. This means that a great part of plastic pollution is not visible at first sight.
Besides, the estimated quantity of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean and the quantity that floats on the surface do not match and a lot of studies have now demonstrated that the gap is due to the fact that a lot of this waste sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
Marine organisms eat plastic.
The study about the ways how oceans “assimilate” plastic reveals that one of them is the ingestion (and defecation) by marine animals.
Nowadays, it has been clearly shown that animals that live in the ocean eat plastic that they mistake for food, from the smallest organism like plankton to the biggest marine mammals. They evacuate some of this plastic through digestion, but they also accumulate a part of it in their bodies.
And of course, the smaller the particles, the more likely to end up in the food chain, and on our plates.
Plastic harmful substances contaminate the seafood we eat.
Although it is very alarming, the problem is not only that fish and shellfish we eat may contain plastic , but also that, besides being an hydrophobic material -meaning that it repels water- this material absorbs toxins like a sponge.
As a result, in addition to plastic harmful components -bisphenols, phthalates and other additives- marine animals also ingest all the substances that plastic has been absorbing along its life, such as other endocrine disrupters, heavy metals or even some virus.
So, we have to become aware that when we use and throw plastic away, our responsibility is not only towards animals and the environment, but also, towards ourselves and, above all, the coming generations and their food safety.