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Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in diameter. This makes them extremely hard to clean up but these little pieces are harming our ecosystems and processes like the biological carbon pump. The biological carbon pump is responsible for sequestering up to 12 billion metric tons of carbon at the bottom of the ocean each year. Without this system, scientists fear that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will continue to rise.
Source: SciTech Daily/YouTube
Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves into the water at the surface. Through photosynthesis, tiny marine algae absorb the carbon before passing it down the chain to smaller creatures. Finally, zooplankton excretes the carbon as part of “fecal pellets” that sink to the bottom of the ocean. That’s when the carbon is remineralized into rocks. Unfortunately, microplastics disrupt every part of this process, and the problem is just getting worse.
When sea animals ingest microplastics, it affects the remineralization back into rocks. The microplastics make the “fecal pellets” sink lower and even give them a buoyancy that prevents them from sinking to the bottom. This means that they are more likely to be eaten by other animals, which is a huge health concern as well.
The only way that we can help try to stop this damaging cycle is to continue to make laws and regulations regarding microplastics. We also need to cut back and eliminate our use of plastic as a society.
Microplastics have been found everywhere, from Mount Everest to the depths of the oceans, and it’s even been found in the placentas of pregnant women. It’s more important now than ever to move away from single-use plastic. Not only is it horrible for the environment, but now studies like this are revealing how devastating they can be for human cells. Through food, the air, and other ways, we are constantly consuming tiny plastic particles. Sign this petition to join the fight against plastic Pollution!
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- California Becomes First State to Require Testing of Drinking Water for Microplastics
- New World Health Organization Report Reveals Cigarette Butts as Main Driver of Microplastic Pollution
- Viruses Can Survive by ‘Hitchhiking’ Onto Microplastics in Freshwater, New Study Finds
- Nurdles: The Pesky Unregulated Microplastic That’s Killing Marine Life
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