How long does plastic last in the ocean?



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    Scientists have previously though that plastic only decomposed at very high temperatures over a long period of time–hundreds of years. Yet a National Geographic article by Carolyn Barry reports that some plastics “actually decompose rapidly in the ocean,” breaking down within a year’s time from being dumped. More disturbing information was discovered in the study done by Japanese researchers. They took samples from many waters near the US, India, Europe, Japan and some other locations and all the samples indicated the presence of polystyrene. Polystyrene is found in disposable utensils and cutlery, Styrofoam, DVD cases, etc. The samples showed that degrading plastics were producing “potentially toxic chemicals” (National Geographic) like bisphenol A (BPA), which interferes with the functionality of the reproductive organs of animals. Another chemical found was styrne monomer, which might be carcinogenic. Sadly, this decomposition could be a huge problem, because already 44% of seabirds eat plastic by mistake, reports National Geogrphic. The plastic is making its way into our ecosystem with its toxic effects at an alarming rate, especially since it is breaking down even quicker than expected. 

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