New Pollution in Our World

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New Pollution in Our World

Isaac Sharp, Senior Writer

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Sadly, new reports have already been released in Science Daily about new plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea along the Israeli coastline. Halfway around the world, in Portland, Oregon, USA the City Councilors are trying to make a change in the amount of cheap plastic that is consumed in order to fight this new pollution threat.

Along the Israeli coastline studies and research is being made by the scientists at Tel Aviv University. The report of plastic pollution was based around the organisms called, ascidians, which are sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders.  Their research, stating that these ascidians have ingested microplastics due to further pollution, also confirmed the existence of plastic additives, i.e. “plasticizers,” in the ascidians. Plasticizers are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.  

Although they might seem small and not very important, Gal Vered, co-author of the study and a Ph.D. student in Shenkar’s laboratory at TAU, says, “Solitary ascidians are highly efficient filter feeders and are excellent examples of the state of pollution that affects many other marine organisms. Our findings are extremely disturbing. Even in protected beaches, there was evidence of microplastics and plastic additives in ascidians. In fact, at every sampling site, we discovered varying levels of these pollutants.” The reason why it is so disturbing is because if plastic pollution is currently affecting these very small ocean organisms, it is reasonable to believe plastics are polluting even the deepest sea creatures.

The research was lead by Noa Shenkar, who stated, “This is a direct result of human use of plastic, It may seem that plastic bags and bulky plastic products that we notice floating in the sea are the major problem. But a more important cause for concern is the fragmentation of these products into small particles that are then ingested by many organisms and reach even the deepest zones in the ocean.” To sum it up, this is another example of how devastating the actions of humankind can be and how widespread the effects on our oceans and the tiniest organisms in them.

On a more positive note the City Councilors of Portland, OR made a decision to try and stop some of the plastic pollution that is spreading by deciding to have a customer at a restaurant ask for a straw in order to limit the use of this type of cheap plastic. When finalizing this the city of Portland took a step toward trying to ban plastic straws, like many municipalities across the country. The city already has a ban on plastic bags at checkout and foam food containers, although this act against the straws is not a total ban, the Councilors are taking a step in the right direction. Seattle, a neighboring city, already has a ban on all plastic straws.

In conclusion, 2019 may be the year humankind finally makes some big decisions to fix the pollution that we have caused in our oceans.

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