IBED MSc student warns about plastic pollution of the marine environment

18 June 2012

In an article in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, MSc student Jort Hammer assesses the problem of lastic debris polluting the marine environment.

In an article in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, MSc student Jort Hammer assesses the problem of plastic debris polluting the marine environment.

Cheap, strong and durable, plastics offer many benefits to society and as a consequence are widely used. However, frequent inappropriate waste management practices, or irresponsible human behavior, have led to the accumulation of large amounts of plastics in the marine environment. Amongst others this has led to the formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex; a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N. The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

The accumulation of plastic debris has a strong and adverse impact on many marine species. Effects range from ingestion or entanglement to bioaccumulation in the food chain of toxicants leached from the plastics. Both victim and creator of the plastic debris problem, humanity has a responsibility of resolving it. This will be a formidable task indeed, requiring a combination of government action and public initiatives to prevent future pollution and clean up the existing debris.

Jort Hammer arrived at these conclusions based on a literature review as part of his MSc study of Limnology and Oceanography. Together with IBED researchers Michiel Kraak and John Parsons, he subsequently published the study as review article in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

Publication details

Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 220, 2012, p.1-44.

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-3414-6_1

Published by  IBED