Monday, October 12, 2009

POLLUTION: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Tom Palmieri

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a 10,000 square mile area in the middle of the Pacific ocean. First discovered in 1997 by self trained ocean researcher Charles Moore, he named the stretch of ocean between the UK and China The Great Pacific Garbage Patch because of it's 30 foot deep and 10,000 square mile mass. The area is about twice the size of Texas. Since it's discovery, the area has been under study by environmental groups and Universities for it's negative impact on aquatic wildlife.

In an August press release detailing a recent 3 week expedition through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by research scientists from the University of California, led by Miriam Goldstein and fellow researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego, Goldstein commented, "It's pretty shocking - it's unusual to find exactly what you're looking for".

What they were looking for is the chemical breakdown of plastic, along with the toxic chemicals they contained, and their effect on marine life from the micro organisms and Plankton that are subject to the bio mass, to the predator fish that are higher on the food chain and consume the smaller aquatic life forms. The concern is that the chemically contaminated larger fish, end up on our dinner plates.

In recent studies conducted by Dr Frederick Vom Saal from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and with joint researchers from Japan, studies showed an increase in onset Diabetes, Liver and Kidney disease, and most alarming, Miscarriages they believe to be related to oceanic fish consumption contaminated with residue from plastic containers and the toxic chemicals they contained.

Thomas Morton, a journalist on Charles Moore research vessel, the El Quido, returned from a one week stay in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and reported on the area as an "Ecological Catastrophe".

Researchers on the vessel recorded a 6 to 1 ratio of Plankton VS Plastic and the normally soft saltwater in the area is a "Yellowish soupy mix".

Plastic in salt water, unlike on land, does not Bio Degrade, it Photo Degrades, breaking down into miniscule particles small enough for fish to consume. The chemical compounds in the plastic remain and the toxins are transferred in trace amounts to larger game fish.

When asked if there was a solution to the problem on the horizon, Thomas Morton shrugged his shoulders and stated there was not.

"What is happening in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a global catastrophe and until all countries adopt a safe plastics dumping regulation, the bio mass in the middle of the ocean will continue to grow, and until the world population stops using plastic containers filled with toxic chemicals found in household cleaners, the problem will only worsen".

Only a global co-operation of many countries taking immediate action, can minimize the health damage that will surely come from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Authors Note:

There has been over 85,000 new chemicals introduced to the American population since 1944 with little or no EPA regulations or testing for human exposure. 70% of these toxic chemicals are found in Household Cleaners.

Organizations such as Green Justice, a Law firm in New York have recently filed class action suits against 4 major cleaning solution manufacturers to disclose the chemicals used in their products. The case went public after the manufacturers were asked to disclose the chemicals used and they replied the chemicals were, "Company Secrets"

When asked for EPA intervention, the EPA said they have tested and approved only 4 chemicals in 2 years, citing claims the Budget Office of the White House is "Dragging their feet" and slashing the EPA budget for chemical testing, resulting in millions of Americans being put at risk of toxic chemical exposures.

To help us get EPA funding for future chemical testing, please do your part and sign the EPA Petition to force congress to make funding available to the EPA for chemical testing on products used in public schools.

Sign the petition here EPA Petition.

Thomas Palmieri is an environmentalist and internet author living in South Florida.

To view his web page and learn what you can do to go green, please visit Green Business Opportunity.

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