Shoreline Clogged with Microscopic Plastic Litter
by Roddy Scheer
Plastic-based litter from human beings is
inundating the world's oceans and polluting shorelines down to the
microscopic level, according to British scientists who recently
completed a multi-year study on the problem in and around Great
Thompson and colleagues at the University of Plymouth report in
the journal Science that they looked at apparently clean sand and
mud on British beaches, in intertidal estuaries and even under 30
feet of water for evidence of invisible pollution.
found microscopic fragments almost from the first sample. Since
then we have looked at more than 20 sites around Great Britain,
and this material has been present at all of them, from Land's End
to the north of Scotland," he said. "We are finding just
as much in remote parts as we are nearer the big centers."
found that microscopic fragments of plastic had been ingested by
barnacles--which filter water for food--as well as by lugworms,
crustaceans and plankton.
wash up on beaches and are repeatedly broken by the pounding waves.
The team searched for nylon, polyester, acrylic and six other
kinds of polymer with a clear chemical "signature." But
they believe they have underestimated the spread of human debris.