Earth Day Network Focuses on Plastic Pollution

By Sally MillerEarth Day Network 2018

April is Earth Month and that gives us the opportunity to bring awareness about global issues affecting the environment. This year the Earth Day Network is focusing on plastic pollution. Many of you may have seen recent articles on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that massive floating island of plastic. For those who missed article you can find it here – https://wapo.st/2G7oMIu.

While it turns out that much of the 79,000 metric tons of plastic in the patch is abandoned fishing gear caught in the slow moving current, microplastics make up 94 percent of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch even though they account for only eight percent of the total tonnage.

A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “Marine Microplastics Spell Big Problems for Future Generations” sees microplastics emerging as a significant environmental threat. The vast quantity of discarded plastic waste that is accumulating in the oceans breaks down to form microscopic fragments. These microplastics (particles with a diameter

Marine plastic debris is a global threat because of its abundance, persistence, and mobility. We have all seen compelling images of marine birds and turtles entangled in plastic debris, and many marine species ingest plastic debris which leads to injury and death. Microplastics are an additional cause for concern because their size range overlaps with the particle size ingested by animals at the base of the marine food web. Ocean feeders readily ingest them, leading to transfer of the plastics themselves and any chemicals they contain or have absorbed from seawater. Many of these species are important to fisheries or perform vital ecosystem functions.

This year the Earth Day Network is focusing on plastic pollution, especially looking at how microplastic pollution gets into our drinking water supply. Here are some facts from their campaign:
PLASTIC POLLUTION FACT: Microplastics (extremely small pieces of plastic) are present in almost all water systems in the world—streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
PLASTIC POLLUTION FACT: 83% of the samples of tap water tested from major metropolitan areas around the world were contaminated with plastic fibers. In another study, 93% of water samples from major bottled water suppliers from around the world showed signs of microplastic contamination, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The ways microplastics enter our water supply are surprising. Microplastics emanate from clothing, cosmetics, car tires, and paint chips, among other sources. They’re also created from all plastic items as they erode into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastic fibers are so tiny that they seem to be able to pass through the filtering systems used to purify the water from streams or rivers that goes into our homes and water bottles. They are also small enough to be easily transported by the wind.

The impact that drinking water contaminated with microplastics has on our health is still being studied. We know that plastics contain chemicals added during the manufacturing process and that plastics absorb other toxins from the water. Interest in the potential toxicity of plastic particles towards human health is growing.

Earth Day Network’s End Plastic Pollution campaign includes four major components:
• Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution;
• Educating, mobilizing and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution;
• Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics, and
• Promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.

To learn more about plastic pollution visit the Earth Day Network website. – https://www.earthday.org/stop-using-disposable-plastic/

Do Just One Thing – Help End Plastic Pollution by considering how you use plastics

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