Microplastic Concentration on Ocean Floor
1.9 Million Microfibers of Plastic Found Per Square Meter
Microplastic concentration on ocean floor has reached up to its highest level, as 1.9 million pieces of plastic micro fragments can be found on one square meter. This is a very sad and shocking discovery made by the researchers. Every year, 10 million tons of plastic material is dumped inside the ocean, out of which only 1% is able to float and removed outside by various methods.
The rest of the missing 99% of the dumped plastic content was thought to have been accumulated inside the deep ocean, which can now be found in the form of microplastic concentration on ocean floor, resulting in major water pollution, harmful for the aquatic animals residing in the area.
Water pollution in oceans
The excess microplastic concentration on ocean floor is causing stress of the aquatic ecosystem, resulting in chemical, physical, and biological changes to the environment. The aquatic ecosystem is very important to maintain normal functions in the environment as they help in recycling nutrients present, purification of water, weaken and diminish floods, recharge groundwater with ions along with providing a habitat for the wildlife.
The sources of microplastic concentration on ocean floor are the result of fishing, oil and gas consumption residue, and shipping. The recent study published in a science journal revealed that the deep ocean current acts as conveyor belts across the floor of the sea, helping in transport of tiny microplastic concentration on ocean floor.
As a result of the sea currents, microplastic concentration on ocean floor gathers in massive sediments and is also called by the name of ‘microplastic hotspots’ by researchers in Germany, United Kingdom, and France. The patches of floating garbage, including bags, bottles, and straws often seen floating around the sea surface are just a slight representation of what is underneath.
Composition of microplastic concentration
The microplastic concentration on ocean floor is mainly comprised of fibers from clothing and textile companies as they are not completely filtered out from the wastewater in treatment plants. The fragments are very minute in size due to which they are not easily filtered out and result in being flushed out into rivers and oceans.
Distributions of microfibers on the seafloor
Ocean currents majorly control the distribution of microplastic concentration on ocean floor. Once the microfibers of plastic drift into the ocean water, it is rapidly moving by the episodic turbid waves, which act as a very powerful and effective underwater torrent, helping in carrying the microplastic concentration towards the deep ocean floor.
Usually, microplastic fibers are inert when on their own, but through time the microplastic fiber concentration begins to act as a contaminating and toxic agent for the aquatic ecosystem. These microplastic are ingested by several microorganisms present in the ocean and then passes further up on the food chain.
As the microplastic concentration on ocean floor can be ingested my multiple forms of marine life, the chemical contamination is causing inside the body of that animal, and its passage towards much higher life form can ultimately lead to the out plate and can cause damage and harm to the human life.
As the persistent organic pollutants, formed by excess industrial chemical waste and other toxic chemicals dumped in oceans, present in the marine environment can attach themselves to the floating plastic debris present on the surface of the ocean and be easily transported via ocean currents and waves, resulting in the larger area of pollution and damage to aquatic life.
Some studies suggest that exposure of humans to microplastic concentration on ocean floor can prove to be toxic towards the human body and may cause cancer in certain people.