NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCESPlastic Waste in the Ocean  The Problem. See

NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCESPlastic Waste in the Ocean  The Problem. See ; “The oceans face a massive and growing threat from something you encounter everyday: plastics. An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic leaks into the marine environment from land-based sources every year —this is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute.As plastics continue to flood into our oceans, the list of marine species affected by plastic debris expands. Tens of thousands of individual marine organisms have been observed suffering from entanglement or ingestion of plastics permeating the marine environment—from zooplankton and fish, to sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds. Plastics never go away . Instead, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which act as magnets for harmful pollutants. When eaten by fish, some of those chemical-laden microplastics can work their way up the food chain and into the fish we eat.Plastics in our oceans threaten the viability of critical marine ecosystems, but marine plastic pollution is not just a problem for our oceans. The extent to which we, too, are being affected by the plastics that have become so ubiquitous in our environment—in our food, water and air—is a topic of extensive research.Unfortunately, one of the most popular solutions to plastic pollution falls far short. A meager 9 percent of all plastic waste generated has been recycled . Recycling alone is not enough to solve the plastics crisis. To have an impact, we must reduce the amount of single-use plastic being produced at the source. Oceana’s plastics campaign will urge companies to adopt alternatives for single-use plastic packaging.” To get some idea of the magnitude of the problem, see“For example, 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year,40,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometer of ocean,75 percent of what is removed from beaches is made of plastic,800 species worldwide are impacted by marine debris,100 percent of sea turtle species are affected by marine debris,Half of all mammal species are affected by marine debris,20 percent of all sea bird species are affected by marine debris,By 2050 more plastic will be in the ocean than fish (by weight).”  Sources in Rivers“Rivers carry trash over long distances and connect nearly all land surfaces with the oceans,” making them a major battleground in the fight against sea pollution, explains Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany.Schmidt and his colleagues dug up published data on the plastic concentration in 57 rivers of various sizes around the world. These measurements included bottles and bags, as well as microscopic fibers and beads. The researchers multiplied these concentrations by the rivers' water discharge to calculate the total weight of plastic flowing into the sea. They then fed these data into a model that compared them with the estimated weight of plastic litter generated per person per day along each river.The results, published in Environmental Science & Technology , show that rivers collectively dump anywhere from 0.47 million to 2.75 million metric tons of plastic into the seas every year, depending on the data used in the models. The 10 rivers that carry 93 percent of that trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea.”Depiction of the rivers that contribute most of the waste flow can be found here: ; The USGS is working to characterize the problem. More information can be found here: of the dangers that have been documented are:The physical hazards of ingesting plastic particles (fish, birds, and other animals can experience digestive obstruction, impaired reproduction, other adverse biological effects, and even death)The unhealthy additives found in plastic particles (some additives have been associated with cancer and endocrine disruption)The contaminants that accumulate on plastic particles (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's), organochlorine pesticides, trace metals, and even pathogens have been found at high concentrations on microplastics)Many additional statistics concerning USGS findings can be found on the web site, along with proposed actions.