The Global Health Threat of Ocean Plastic

Huge inputs of plastic litter make it into the oceans, 8 million tons per year and are hazardous to the environment and human health.  Marine plastic contamination has spread across the globe. Several garbage patches have formed in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, respectively called the Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, and the North Atlantic Garbage Patch.

“Plastic litter is frequently mistaken for food by marine life, leading to health complications and death. Additionally the long persistence of plastic debris is also problematic for other reasons. Combinations of weathering by ultraviolet light, seawater, and mechanical action partly degrade and fragment larger pieces of plastic down to microplastics and are colonised by certain marine organisms, which affects entire ecosystems, including non-human and human food chains. Ocean garbage has become a threat to the health of future generations, and already affects human health on a global scale. Human bio-monitoring shows that compounds used for plastic production are already being found in human blood and cells. and these compounds form DNA adducts as the first step of tumor development. Plastic compound also affect the endocrine system and can cause infertility”.

Ocean plastic is huge global environmental and health threat that we need to be aware of and be proactive in stopping and then reversing.

So what can we do?

Feeling Thirsty?

Carry a refillable water bottle. And while you’re at it, refuse that non-reusable plastic straw your vendor offers you along with that refreshing beverage.

Going Shopping?

A person uses a plastic carrier bag for only 12 minutes on average and throws it away. Don’t be that person. Carry your own bags!

Eating Out?

Take-out containers are another big source of plastic pollution. Why not just carry your own containers? A little inconvenient for starters, but by the time you get to the main course, you’ll be used to it!

Buying Stuff?

Exercise your right as a consumer and “choose consciously”. You can buy products that don’t use plastic microbeads or plastic packaging. A tiny step for you, but a huge leap in cutting down on plastic pollution!

These are all things you can do in your day-to-day life…

Links to more information.

Fact Sheet: Plastics in the Ocean


1. Threats to human health by great ocean garbage patches

Efferth, Thomas et al. The Lancet Planetary Health , Volume 1 , Issue 8 , e301 – e303

Categories: Global Heath Threats

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