Title

What is the Plastic That Has Invaded the Ocean?

Poster Number

12

Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Plastics are primarily synthetic organic polymers derived from petroleum. Many of these polymers are no biodegradable with the consequence that they stay in the natural environment for a very long time. Plastic debris and minute plastic particles, including pre-production plastics called nurdles, resin beads, or pellets are floating in the ocean. These synthetic polymers are extremely useful for a wide variety of applications and they are cheap: One pound of pellets costs about $1 and contains approximately 25,000 pellets. At this time, there are a few studies about impact of contamination by plastics in marine environment. More than 80% of the marine debris is PLASTIC, it has the potential to interfere with a wide range of species including turtles, birds, fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife by entanglement and ingestion (Moore C. 2003). In resent studies we found that pellets and debris plastic can concentrate, transport persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (Mato et al., 2001, Rios et al., in process).The plastic debris can enter to the ocean in different paths and can accumulate (Moore et al.,2001, Thompson et al., 2004). In our Research, we work with plastic debris samples from the ocean in North Central Pacific Gyre. This is an area of high pressure with a clockwise ocean current. The circular winds produce circular ocean currents which spiral inward and dip slightly at the center, this tends to trap the debris from different sources in the North Pacific. In the center of the gyre the winds are sufficiently calm that floating debris is not mixed deeply into the water column. The types of plastics found were identified using a Shimadzu 8300 Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer (FT-IR). The spectra were corrected for background and compared to spectra with our database for polymers using virgin pellets as standards.

Location

Callison Hall

Start Date

6-5-2006 10:00 AM

End Date

6-5-2006 12:00 PM

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May 6th, 10:00 AM May 6th, 12:00 PM

What is the Plastic That Has Invaded the Ocean?

Callison Hall

Plastics are primarily synthetic organic polymers derived from petroleum. Many of these polymers are no biodegradable with the consequence that they stay in the natural environment for a very long time. Plastic debris and minute plastic particles, including pre-production plastics called nurdles, resin beads, or pellets are floating in the ocean. These synthetic polymers are extremely useful for a wide variety of applications and they are cheap: One pound of pellets costs about $1 and contains approximately 25,000 pellets. At this time, there are a few studies about impact of contamination by plastics in marine environment. More than 80% of the marine debris is PLASTIC, it has the potential to interfere with a wide range of species including turtles, birds, fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife by entanglement and ingestion (Moore C. 2003). In resent studies we found that pellets and debris plastic can concentrate, transport persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (Mato et al., 2001, Rios et al., in process).The plastic debris can enter to the ocean in different paths and can accumulate (Moore et al.,2001, Thompson et al., 2004). In our Research, we work with plastic debris samples from the ocean in North Central Pacific Gyre. This is an area of high pressure with a clockwise ocean current. The circular winds produce circular ocean currents which spiral inward and dip slightly at the center, this tends to trap the debris from different sources in the North Pacific. In the center of the gyre the winds are sufficiently calm that floating debris is not mixed deeply into the water column. The types of plastics found were identified using a Shimadzu 8300 Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer (FT-IR). The spectra were corrected for background and compared to spectra with our database for polymers using virgin pellets as standards.