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Plastic in Our Oceans

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Natalie Westwood

on 28 March 2013

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Transcript of Plastic in Our Oceans

Background photo by t.shigesa Our Impact Uses of Plastic Definitions Effects on Biota Us and Plastics Moving to the Ocean Plastics in Our Oceans Definition A synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form. Arriving at the Sea Terrestrial 80% of ocean debris origin
enters by waterways or wind
water overflow
improper disposal Aquatic Arrives from dumping directly into oceans
Comes from both commercial and tourist vessels and oil rigs 1939 1938 1933 1908 Gyres
rotating currents
result of Coriolis effect

Ekman pumping
caused by gyres and Corilois effect
upwelling of water

can cause reversing in current
variation in temporal and spatial scale Ocean Garbage Patches currently 5 in the world
North and South Pacific
North and South Atlantic
Indian Ocean

36 000 tons of plastic

North Pacific has the most plastic and covers the largest area

South Pacific is the densest patch Moving in the Ocean Predicting the Future Current Situation plastic comes to the ocean from highly populated places

carried around by winds and currents

right now, subtropical gyres are the most important factor in predicting location Entanglement Ingestion Transport of Invasive Species Toxicity Non-lethal entanglement

Lethal entanglement

Species Affected
Fish Special Case:
Ghost Netting Drift nets used in commercial fishing

Get lost in storms, improperly disposed

NASA - Ghost Net Remediation Project
900 buoys
Alerts coast guard or research vessles Once plastic has been ingested, large fragments are rarely excreted
confusion of plastic as prey
impede airways or digestion
take up space in digestive system
create a feeling of satiety
prevent weight gain Effects: Marine plastics absorb toxins from the environment

1000x more toxins on plastic surface than the surround environment

Examples: PCBs
PAH's plastic moves between gyres
carries sessile organisms and algae between systems Example Laysan Albatross 100 000 died per year in the early 1990s Example Zooplankton important prey item for many species What Can We Do as Consumers?? Reduce Plastic Bag Use! Educate Yourself! Use reusable bags from recycled plastics or cloth

Plastic bags have been banned in 10 countries Everyday Ideas Use reusable water bottles, coffee cups, etc.

Practice 'litter-less lunches'

Choose items that: use less plastic wrap
glass bottles over plastic
place all waste in the right bin know your local recycling guidelines

Look at government websites and blogs

Water Ted - Beth Terry Create Demand for Recycled Goods look for items that use rPET

Buy used

Donate or sell your used items

Use plastic trash for something productive Ubuntu Blox Non-recyclable plastics (styrofoam) are collected and sanitized

compressed using a crank power machine

tied off in 2lb blocks

blocks are stacked between rebar

plaster is applied over the structure to fireproof Short answer: EVERYTHING! - packaging
- textiles
- medical supplies
- buildings
- automotive
- baby products 1869 1862 1839 Charles Goodyear discovered a process called vulcanization Parkesine, the first man-made plastic, was revealed Celluloid was invented by synthesizing cotton fiber and camphor 1907 Bakelite, the first synthetic man-made plastic was discovered Cellophane was invented. It was not patented until 4 years later and used to wrap candies 1920 Polyvinyl chloride was developed to replace natural rubber Used mostly in construction materials Polyvinylene Chloride was discovered.

Introduced as "Saran Wrap" twenty years later Teflon was invented

Used in kitchenware since it is impervious to acids, heat, and cold Nylon was revealed by Dupont at New York's World Fair

College girls wore them to show off the miracles of science - next year there was a demand for them as an accessory 1948 - 2012 more types of plastics were invented: - dacron
- lexan
- styrofoam
- kevlar
- fleece Timeline Plastics Today: - synthetic lung
- replacing aluminum in engines
- windows in cars
- styrofoam homes
- bone formation process Benefits of Plastic - Health Care

- Food Agriculture
Packaging - Construction

- Reduces Transportation costs reduces vehicle weight - Sport and Leisure

- Technology Case Study: Plastic Bags Quick Facts:
1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every minute
The U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use plastic bags
2nd most common type of garbage found in the ocean
Remain toxic even after they break down The Problems Degradation in the Ocean very slow to degrade
mechanical degradation, not chemical
happens with all plastics, including biodegradable
during degradation, toxins can leech into water
Microfragments are in plankton samples from the 1960s Mechanisms Photodegradation Biodegradation bacteria and fungi

determined by polymer characteristics, type of organisms, nature of pretreatment

convert polymers to monomers and then mineralized UV-A and UV-B use photolysis and photooxidation

Visible light helps by heating

Infrared accelerates thermal oxidation Environmental Erosion Thermal Degradation molecular scission

high temperature separates compounds

react with each other
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