Plastics have been a part and parcel of our lives. Starting from food packaging to fabrics, plastic can be found in almost everything. However, did you ever give a thought to what happens to the plastic items that we discard? The plastic items that we discard eventually find their way into the oceans. Though plastic pollution is a serious issue, the use of plastics is still on the rise as many of us are not ready to give up the convenience of using these products. Considering the serious consequences of plastic pollution, the theme of World Oceans Day, celebrated on 8th June every year, is to prevent plastic pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy ocean. On the occasion of World Oceans Day, the blog highlights how plastic pollution in oceans affects marine as well as human lives.
So, How Much Plastic do we dump in the Oceans?
Approximately 8 million plastic waste is dumped in the oceans every year. The dirty beaches, which were places of scenic beauty in the past, are a glimpse of the harm that we are doing to the oceans. Out of the total plastic waste, 60% of the waste is dumped by India. We produce approximately 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste every year. Plastic waste accumulates in areas where the oceans create gyres, a type of circular current. The circular current created by oceans suck in floating debris resulting in pollution.
When these plastic products reach the water bodies, it causes irreparable damage to both marine and human life. The chemicals present in the plastic waste are released not only into the water bodies but also the atmosphere. The chemicals directly enter the food chain as these chemicals from water easily contaminate fish, which are eventually consumed by humans.
How Does Plastic Affect Human Health?
The plastic products that we dump spread throughout the oceans. Not only do the toxins in the plastic affect the oceans, but the plastic products also act as a sponge and soak up other toxins present in the oceans. Plastic pollution in oceans can affect human life in a number of ways. Toxins such as lead, mercury or cadmium are found in fish in the ocean. The contaminated fish are ingested by humans, which can lead to serious health problems. Some of the toxins present in plastics are directly related to health issues such as cancer, birth defects, childhood development issues, and problems of the immune system. In addition, the presence of BPA and phthalate used in water bottles and food packaging materials can interfere with the hormonal functions.
How Does Plastic Affect Marine Life?
Marine animals such as seabirds turtles, dolphins, and seals face the danger of entangling in the plastic bags and other dangerous debris mistaking them to be food. The reason is marine animals can’t differentiate between plastic bags and their food items. When marine animals consume these toxic items, it can lead to internal blockages and death. Large pieces of plastic materials can damage the digestive system of marine animals such as whales and seabirds.
The Bottom Line
Considering the grim situation, it is high time to reduce the usage of plastic products. Switching to reusable products instead of disposables can be of great help in reducing plastic pollution. Taking these small steps can be of great help in reducing the plastic pollution in oceans to some extent.