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Plastics 'poisoning world's seas'

Environmental News
Dec 07, 2006

Microscopic particles of plastic could be poisoning the oceans, according to a British team of researchers. They report that small plastic pellets called "mermaids' tears", which are the result of industry and domestic waste, have spread across the world's seas. Scientists are worried that these fragments can get into the food chain. Sturdy and durable plastic does not bio-degrade, it only breaks down physically, and so persists in the environment for possibly hundreds of years. Among clumps of seaweed or flotsam washed up on the shore it is common to find mermaids' tears, small plastic pellets resembling fish eggs. They are almost impossible to clean up. The incidence of the particles has been increasing over the years. Whether plastics present a toxic challenge to marine life and subsequently to humans is one of the biggest challenges facing marine scientists today. Whatever the findings eventually show, there is little that can be done now to deal with the vast quantities of plastic already in our oceans. It will be there for decades to come.

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