Jun 15, 2019 - Energy & Environment
Oh, the places plastic will go
The ubiquity of plastics has led some researchers to dub this era the Plastic Age. From macro to micro, plastics are slowly permeating our bodies, our oceans and even our air.
Why it matters: By one estimate, nearly 80% of plastic waste has accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment, and it’s uncertain how long it takes to degrade.
Some places plastics have been found:
- The deep sea. A new study indicates microplastics are entering the depths of the ocean — where sunlight doesn’t even touch — and marine animals are consuming them.
- Point Nemo. In the most remote spot in the ocean, scientists found particles of microplastics.
- The Cocos Keeling Islands. A marine biologist found 373,000 toothbrushes and 975,000 shoes on the beaches of a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean.
- A dead whale’s stomach. Rescuers found more than 17 pounds of plastic, including 80 shopping bags.
- Sea turtles. Researchers found microplastics in every single turtle they tested in a recent study.
- The French Pyrenees. Scientists found microplastics at an altitude of 4,500 feet on an isolated, pristine site of the mountains.
- Antarctica. Several water samples detected microplastics in remote parts of the Antarctic.
- Bottled water. A study of 259 bottles from nine different countries found 93% showed microplastic contamination.
- Human excrement. Researchers tested stool samples from individuals across Europe and found plastic particles in every single one.