Plastic is in everything now

Amy McDermott || Plastic pollution is a lot like your curious cat. She’ll find the tiniest nook, where nothing should fit, and she’ll sneak in. Your cat and plastic are alike that way, except your cat is awesome, and probably hates water. Plastic isn’t cute. And unfortunately, it loves getting into water.

Plastic is everywhere it shouldn’t be, mucking up the underwater world. Here are seven of the least-adorable places where it turns up:

1. Seawater

It doesn’t get more basic, or more essential for the oceans than seawater. But right now, the big blue is polluted with at least 5.25 trillion particles of floating plastic trash, weighing in at a whopping 269,000 tons, according to 2014 estimates.

Plastic pollution
Credit: Rich Carey/ Shutterstock

2. Sea Salt 

Here’s a salty trick: Plastics are hiding right under your nose, literally, in the seasoning on your food. A study published in April found that at least 14 sea salt brands, from six countries, are contaminated

Plastic in salt
Photo Credit: Nitr/Shutterstock

3. Shellfish

If plastics are hiding out in seawater and in salt, it’s probably not shocking that they’re in shellfish too. After all, most things tasty-on-the-half-shell are filter feeders. They strain their food from saltwater. In Baynes Sound, British Columbia, both wild and farmed Manila clams are laced with plastics, according to an August 2016 study. Ninety percent of the plastics were tiny fibers, the study found, which can wash out of clothing and flow into the sea.

Plastic in shellfish
Credit: MCarter/Shutterstock

4. Whales

From tiny clams to giant marine mammals, plastics turn up in everybody. Corn chip bags, fishing line and garbage can liners are just a few of the plastic products found in whales’ stomachs.

Plastic in Whale
Credit: Andrew Sutton/ Shutterstock

5. Drinking water

Hard fact to swallow: Microscopic plastic fibers are swirling around in tap water worldwide. They contaminate more than 80 percent of global drinking water, according to a 2017 study by Orb Media. Plastic even flows from the taps of the visitor center of the U.S. Capitol Building, the study found. There were 16 fibers in water samples taken there.

Plastic in water
Credit: Jakub Zak/ Shutterstock

6. You!

Plastic is in water and food. So, unfortunately, it’s probably in you too. Not just a little bit, either. If you eat shellfish, you could swallow up to 11,000 tiny plastic particles every year, according to one 2014 study.

“When you eat clams and oysters, you’re eating plastics as well,” shellfish biologist Sarah Dudas of Vancouver Island University told NPR. She led the study that found microplastics in wild and farmed Manila clams, last year, in Baynes Sound, British Columbia. Don’t fuss too much to avoid shellfish though, Dudas said. Those little plastic particles, “are everywhere.”

No kidding.

Source: Amy McDermott. Plastic is in everything now. Here are seven places it’s turned up lately. Available at: https://oceana.org/blog/plastic-everything-now-here-are-seven-places-it%E2%80%99s-turned-lately# [Accessed on June 6, 2019] 

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