Each year, the sea becomes dirtier and dirtier because of the millions of tons of plastic. Moreover, some recent studies have revealed that humans have a big problem: we don’t have any idea where the largest quantity of plastic lies. The ocean and its corrosive forces break apart those plastic objects into millions of small pieces that are extremely difficult to trace and find. However, a team of experts has come up with a solution to this issue and they have published their findings in a study in Environmental Science and Technology.
Those microplastics ca be as small as a human hair, making them practically impossible to trace. According to a recent study, there are between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons of plastic debris floating in the ocean. What’s even more worrying is that this number only represents about 1% of the total amount of plastic in there.
Fluorescent dye, an unusual but possibly helpful idea
According to Erik van Sebille, the leader of the study dealing with the amount of plastic in the ocean, this is like when astronomers are trying to deal with dark matter and its mysteries. We have no idea how much plastic is on the beaches or coastlines, and we don’t know how much of it marine animals have swallowed. So, basically, experts have no idea where to begin looking.
This is why Sebille has obtained funding from the European Union and he will build some 3D maps to find out where the plastic is distributed throughout the ocean. Now, to help with that plan, researchers at Warwick’s School of Life Sciences have found another possible solution. A type of fluorescent dye called Nile red might be able to help reveal where the plastic particles are exactly.
Even if there is still much to do, the preliminary tests on surface water offered some impressive and encouraging results.
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