Ocean Plastics Made All the More Scary by Their Absorbing Toxins

The marine animals that come in contact with these plastics are more likely to get sick

By Laura Sinpetru on January 23rd, 2013 21:41 GMT

According to a new researcher whose findings were only recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the bits and pieces of plastic that one way or another make their way into aquatic ecosystems worldwide tend to absorb some of the toxic chemical compounds they come in contact with.

This means that they constitute a threat to marine animals in more than one way.

Up until now, it was believed that the aquatic creatures that accidentally fed on these plastic leftovers had their heath negatively affected by the simple fact that their bodies had come to contain foreign objects.

Still, it now seems that the issue is more complicated than this, meaning that the plastic debris that marine animals may ingest can be contaminated with various other substances leaked into the environment by our heavily industrialized ways.

The study's lead author Chelsea Rochman, commented on this issue as follows:

“As the plastic continues to degrade, it's potentially getting more and more hazardous to organisms as they absorb more and more contaminants.”

Inhabitat reports that, prior to issuing these warnings concerning the negative impact that ocean plastics have on marine creatures, the scientists who embarked on this study selected samples of five of the most widely produced plastics, and immersed them in seawater.

These experiments showed that such bits and pieces of plastics are not just capable of absorbing toxic chemical compounds, but that this absorption process could last for several months.

Apparently, high-density polyethylene only stops absorbing persistent organic pollutants after a period of about 44 months.

“These data imply that products made from HDPE, LDPE, and PP pose a greater risk than products made from PET and PVC of concentrating these hazardous chemicals onto fragmented plastic debris ingested by marine animals,” the researchers conclude.
Study finds that plastic debris becomes contaminated with harmful chemical compounds as the months go by
   Study finds that plastic debris becomes contaminated with harmful chemical compounds as the months go by
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