Scientists have identified a new source of chemical pollution released by the huge amounts of plastic rubbish found floating in the oceans of the world. A study has found that as plastics break down in the sea they release potentially toxic substances not found in nature and which could affect the growth and development of marine organisms. . . The scientists found that when plastics decompose in the ocean they release a range of chemicals, such as bisphenol A and substances known as polystyrene-based oligomers, which are not found naturally. Bisphenol A has been implicated in disrupting the hormonal system of animals.
A common form of plastic rubbish is styrofoam, which soon gets crushed into small pieces in the sea. However, it also releases substantial quantities of a toxic substances called styrene monomer, which is known to cause cancer, as well as styrene dimers and trimer, which are suspected of being carcinogenic.
“To date, no studies have been conducted on plastic decomposition at low temperature in the environment owing to the mistaken conception that plastic does not decompose. The present study was conducted to clarify that drift plastic does indeed decompose to give rise to hazardous chemicals in the ocean,” he said.
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