Plastic is one of the most toxic elements adding majorly to the pollution around the world. Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans, damaging and disturbing the balance of the aquamarine ecosystem. Studies predict that the amount of plastic that is dumped into the oceans will outnumber the number of fish by 2050.
On a positive note, a new study has discovered that plastic is surprisingly disappearing from our oceans. A small percentage of it may sometimes be ingested by marine animals, but it cannot account for the 8 million tons that have vanished from the oceans.Professor Aron Stubbins from Northeastern University has been researching the same. He has found that the plastic is broken into smaller pieces by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
The pieces that are smaller than five millimeters are called microplastics. These are further broken down into carbon by the rays of the sun. Though there is no evidence of harmful effects of microplastics, it does not solve the problem of marine pollution. Microbeads are intentionally designed tiny pieces of plastic used in beauty and health products. In addition to that, microplastics are also capable of avoiding the filtration system and hence are easily washed into the oceans. It adds to the pollution in a form which is more difficult to identify and keep in check.
Most of the plastic that enters the water will not sink as it is less dense than water. This places us at a great advantage. Professor Aron says that sunken plastic remains in the dark and will degrade very slowly. Whereas, the plastic that floats comes in direct contact with the sun rays will degrade much faster. For example, a 5 mm piece of Styrofoam will disappear after a few months of exposure to the sun rays.