The Not-So-Great Garbage Patch
The waste of mankind can literally be found throughout all parts of our planet. Contrary to what people would like to believe, not all garbage magically makes its way into some convenient dump. In fact, it is estimated that mankind dumps about 14 billion pounds of plastic into our oceans each year ("Marine Debris"). Everywhere leads to the ocean; whether pollutants travel by river, sewer, or runoff makes no difference. In recent years, the amount of debris making its way into the marine environment has been the cause of great concern. Fragments and remains of discarded plastics have been observed to be forming a landfill of sorts stretching for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific. This "Great" Pacific Ocean garbage patch has been found to be having grave effects on our environment and the wildlife that resides within it. Plastics and toxic chemicals are ending up in the stomachs of marine animals. Besides killing sea life in substantial numbers, the garbage patch is also creating detrimental toxic effects on our environment through the absorption of chemical compounds in the seawater. Scientists now know that the plastic debris spreading across this not-so-great Pacific garbage patch is upsetting the natural system of the marine environment. But how do millions of microplastics from objects such as candy wrappers, shampoo bottles, and razor blades actually end up hundreds of miles off-shore? Two of the greatest sources which contribute to this pollution originate from both the indirect dumping of coastal runoff and the direct discarding of waste into the ocean by commercial and fishing vessels. In general, coastal runoff is primarily generated by the accumulation of litter being swept out to sea through storm sewer systems. Especially after an unusually dry spring, litter that has accumulated on streets and in storm sewers will overwhelm water treatment plants when heavy rains arrive, allowing floating objects to float right...
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