Mediterranean Sea may be polluted with microplastics

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, January 11, 2011
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The 2010 scientific expedition undertaken by the European program called Mediterranean En-Dangered (MED) reveals that 250 billion microplastics could be found in the Mediterranean Sea.

The main goal of the program, which will end in 2013, is to quantify the distribution of plastic pollution and better understand its dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea.

Microplastics are usually defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters, so for most part they are invisible to human eyes. Samplings were conducted within 20 centimeters depth at 40 sites located in the northwestern basins of the Mediterranean Sea mainly off France and northern Italy.

Ninety percent of the samples were composed of microplastics, with some containing up to six times more micro-fragments of plastic compared to plankton, which means that the marine biomass was largely dominated by plastics.

In general, micro debris floating on the Mediterranean Sea reached 115,000 particles per square kilometer with a maximum of 892,000 particles.

The concentration of plastic debris found in the sea is similar to the one measured in the Atlantic of the Northern Hemisphere or in the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' which has a huge density of plastic debris. However, these first findings should be extrapolated with cautions to the whole Mediterranean Sea since sampling sites were limited geographically.

The amount of plastic that will be manufactured in the next ten years will nearly equal the total produced in the 20th century.

Plastic is a major contributor to marine pollution. Impacts of microplastics to organisms and the environment are largely unknown.

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