Researchers have made microplastic measurements in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. In the first 200 meters of the water layer, they estimate that there are approximately 12 to 21 million tons of waste.
According to a new study, there are millions of tons of microplastics in the Atlantic. In the upper water layers of the first 200 meters alone there are approximately 12 to 21 million tons of waste. This is the conclusion of measurements by researchers from the “National Oceanography Centre” (NOC) in Great Britain, published in the journal “Nature Communications”.
Until now, due to the lack of microplastic measurements, there has been no way for scientists to compare the assumed amount of plastic that has been released into the ocean with the amount in the water, said study leader Katsiaryna Pabortsava, “Our research is the first to do this across the entire Atlantic from the UK to the Falkland Islands”.
The NOC researchers calculated the frequency of three different types of plastic, which together accounted for more than half of the world’s plastic waste. They took samples from a total of 12 locations at three different depths within the first 200 meters below the water surface. They found up to 7000 microplastic particles with a size of at least 0.0032 centimeters per cubic meter of seawater.
In the USA alone, each of them caused about 340 grams of plastic waste per day
The scientists want to use their findings to lay the foundation for a better evaluation of the ecological damage caused by microplastics. Until now, there have been no solid estimates of the amount of plastics, especially in remote places such as in the middle of the ocean. The health impact of the ubiquitous microplastics on living organisms is a subject of research. Such tiny particles have already been detected in snow, food and drinking water.
In the USA alone, each of the 330 million inhabitants causes about 340 grams of plastic waste every day, according to a study published a few months ago. Some of this waste ends up in nature, where it slowly breaks down into smaller and smaller components. The microplastic particles get into rivers and lakes, the sea, the soil and also the atmosphere. Some of the particles were introduced via the atmosphere, for example during rainfall – they are so small that they are even transported across continents.