General, Research, Technology

What happens to plastic bags thrown into the water?

Many of us already know howHighly plastic waste clogs our planet. It is scientifically proven that the decomposition of discarded bags, bottles and other packaging made of synthetic materials lasts for more than a thousand years. At the same time, they release hazardous substances into the water, which can harm aquatic inhabitants and plants. Recently, German scientists plunged into the depths of the Pacific Ocean and found there a plastic bag with an aluminum can of Coca-Cola and a package of cottage cheese, which lay on the bottom for more than 20 years. Researchers studied their condition and impact on the environment, after which they made very interesting conclusions, which we will discuss now.

Plastic bags decompose for hundreds of years

Plastic trash

The results of the scientific work were published inScientific Reports. Finding plastic waste is very easy - in 2019 I already wrote that today the ocean depths are very similar to “garbage bins”. But finding out in which year plastic bags and bottles were thrown into the water and how many years lay at the bottom is always very difficult. German scientists set out to find garbage from which it is possible to identify the exact date of production and calculate the approximate time of disposal into the ocean. After several dives into the waters of the Pacific Ocean, they succeeded.

Pack of cottage cheese found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean

At a depth of 4150 meters, scientists found packaging fromcottage cheese and a can of Coca-Cola wrapped in a plastic bag. Due to the durability of the bag, which has been decomposing for hundreds of years, the label of the carbonated drink was well preserved and inscriptions were visible on it. It turned out that the package contained a can of limited edition Coca-Cola - it was produced between 1988 and 1996. It turns out that the garbage bag lay on the ocean floor for more than 20 years.

See also: Drink cola increases the risk of cancer

Plastic damage

According to biogeochemist Stefan Krause, despitefor a long time under water, there were no signs of decomposition by the bag and box of food. The aluminum can was also almost completely intact, because it takes about 500 years to completely decompose. Despite the fact that the objects were made of different materials, they strongly influenced the variety of microbes on the ocean floor. There were practically no germs on the surface of objects - plastic probably releases harmful substances and living creatures shy away from their effects.

Biogeochemistry - A branch of science that studies the chemical composition of substances and processes that occur on Earth with the participation of living organisms.

What kind of harmful substances emitplastic objects, scientists are not clear to the end. And all because there are a lot of these objects and there are hundreds of varieties of this synthetic material in the world. For example, polycarbonate plastic used in the manufacture of large water containers when heated to 150 degrees Celsius releases the biologically active substance bisphenol A. In the course of numerous studies, it was found that prolonged exposure to this substance causes anxiety, can lead to infertility and cause dangerous diseases.

Ocean bottom with plastic trash

But the danger is accumulating at the bottom of the oceansplastic is largely due to far from the emission of harmful substances. The fact is that this garbage is often swallowed by whales, turtles and other aquatic creatures. Their insides are literally littered with objects that cannot be digested. In the end, the organisms of animals become clogged, because of which they suffer and die after some time. If humanity continues to clog up the waters, there will be significantly more such deaths, and this can lead to the extinction of many species of animal organisms.

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Particles of plastic even get into our bodies -The main source is drinking water. In 2019, German scientists conducted a scientific study and found that the bodies of many children contain a dangerous amount of microscopic plastic. Although the World Health Organization has reported the safety of these particles, they clearly have no place in the human body. Perhaps the researchers have not yet studied these particles well enough and in the long run they can cause irreparable harm to our body.