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article imageNew river study on origins of plastic pollution in the oceans

By Tim Sandle     May 17, 2019 in Environment
Where does plastic waste originate? How does it arrive in the Ocean? Where should we concentrate our efforts to stop the flow of this waste? These questions will be addresses in a new study of ten rivers by the Tara Ocean Foundation.
Ecological calculations suggest that 80 percent of plastic waste found at sea originates on land. But whereabouts on land does this plastic come from and how can it be controlled? To address this topic the Tara Ocean Foundation and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory are beginning a new project to explore and identify the flux of plastic waste from land to sea. This is based on the simple premise: work out where most plastic is coming from then it becomes easier to stop it.
The new collaboration is called Mission Microplastics 2019. The project will involves the schooner Tara moving through several regions in Europe for a period of six months. During this time the crew (made up of marine biologists, ecotoxicologists, oceanographers, mathematicians/modelers, chemists and physicists) will explore ten major European rivers. The journey begins on May 23, 2019 in Lorient (Morbihan, North-Western France).
The ten rivers are: the Thames (England); the Elbe and Rhine (Germany); the Seine, Loire, Garonne and Rhone (France); the Tagus (Portugal); the Ebro (Spain); the Tiber (Italy).
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Previous examinations of plastic waste in the rivers have studied the flow of waste in various aquatic environments, such as seawater, coastal waters, rivers, transitional waters such as estuaries and lagoons, looking at larger plastic fragments— "macro-debris" (that is plastic particles greater than 2 centimeters in diameter).
The new mission will instead focus on microplastics (any kind of plastic fragment that is less than five millimeters in length.
The focus will be on unraveling sources of pollution and behavior of microplastics as they disperse into the ocean and to understand the impacts of microplastics on marine biodiversity and the food chain.
More about River, Plastic, Plastic pollution, Pollution
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