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Ocean Pollution a Threat to Human Health


Information republished from an article written by Megan Avakian, Feb-2021 -


“Ocean pollution is a widespread, worsening, and poorly controlled problem that is directly affecting human and ecosystem health,” said lead study author Philip Landrigan, M.D., director of the Boston College Global Observatory on Pollution and Health. “It is a complex mix of toxins that, until now, has not received the systematic attention it deserves.”


The study , funded in part by NIEHS and coordinated by the Centre Scientifique de Monaco with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, is the first comprehensive examination of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health., funded in part by NIEHS and coordinated by the Centre Scientifique de Monaco with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, is the first comprehensive examination of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health, funded in part by NIEHS and coordinated by the Centre Scientifique de Monaco with support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, is the first comprehensive examination of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health.


Plastic waste makes up an estimated 80% of marine pollution. About 10 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, killing seabirds, fish, and marine mammals. It breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics that absorb a range of chemicals floating in the marine environment, including pesticides and toxic metals. These chemical-laden particles are ingested by fish and shellfish and then passed on to seafood consuming humans. Microplastics may harm marine and human health, but the risks are still largely unknown.


“There's a lot of work needed to better understand the composition, toxicity, and potential human health impacts of microplastics, but it’s likely that it’s pretty substantial,” said Landrigan.


The chemicals used to manufacture a range of products, from consumer goods and food packaging to cleaning products and pesticides, also end up in the seas. The authors wrote that of the thousands of manufactured chemicals and chemical mixtures that pollute the world’s oceans, humans are most likely to be exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated substances, and pesticides through eating contaminated seafood. These chemicals have been shown to cause a wide range of health effects in humans such as cardiovascular disease, developmental and neurobehavioral disorders, metabolic disease, immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and cancers.


Banning single-use plastics, like straws and plastic bags, can reduce the amount of plastic pollution entering oceans.


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