Expeditors during a survey by the UK’s National Oceanographic Center dug out the layers of the upper 200 m of the ocean during a survey expedition in the mid-Atlantic. Scientists have found that between 12 and 21 million tons of tiny plastic fragments float in the Atlantic Ocean. That amount of plastic – 21 million tons – would be enough to fully load almost 1,000 container ships, BBC News reported.
The researchers used the device to filter the ocean water for the smallest pieces of plastic they could collect.
Dr. Katya Paborsava of the National Center for Oceanography, who led the study, said that by measuring the mass of very small plastic particles in the upper 5% of the ocean, she and her colleagues can estimate the “load of plastic on the entire Atlantic.” The figures received by scientists are much higher than expected.
Previously, we were unable to balance the amount of plastic we found in the ocean with the amount we thought we were “shipping”. This is because we did not measure the smallest particles.
Dr. Katya Paborsava of the National Center for Oceanography
A plastics research expedition crossed the Atlantic Ocean. During their expedition – from the UK to the Falkland Islands – scientists discovered up to 7,000 particles per cubic meter of seawater.
They analyzed their samples for the three most used and most frequently discarded polymers – polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene, which are often used in packaging.
Most often, plastic is used in packaging: it is usually only used once before being thrown away.
The findings, the team hopes, will help future efforts to measure environmental and environmental damage from this type of plastic.
Professor Jamie Woodward, a plastic pollution expert at the University of Manchester, told BBC News that the results confirm earlier studies that microplastic stress in oceans is much higher than anticipated.