Scientists are warning that the amount of plastic polluting the oceans could likely be a lot more than we all think.
In a recent paper published this week in the journal Nature Communication, authors Katsiaryna Pabortsava and Richard Lampitt from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre write that there’s a lot more plastic in the Atlantic Ocean alone than previously estimated:
“Concern over plastic pollution of the marine environment is severe. The mass-imbalance between the plastic litter supplied to and observed in the ocean currently suggests a missing sink. However, here we show that the ocean interior conceals high loads of small-sized plastic debris which can balance and even exceed the estimated plastic inputs into the ocean since 1950.”
Pabortsava and Lampitt found that the combined mass of just the three most-littered plastics — polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene — in the top 200 meters (656 feet) of the Atlantic Ocean amounts to between 11.6 million and 21.1 million tons.
And that doesn’t include plastic microfibers.
“Considering that plastics of other sizes and polymer types will be found in the deeper ocean and in the sediments, our results indicate that both inputs and stocks of ocean plastics are much higher than determined previously. It is thus critical to assess these terms across all size categories and polymer groups to determine the fate and danger of plastic contamination.”
Check out the full study here.