Research Says 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' Is Growing

By Austin Westfall
Published: Friday, March 30, 2018 - 4:04pm
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New research says the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is bigger than previously thought.

The research, published in Scientific Reports, found that at least 79,000 tons of ocean plastic is floating inside an area of 600,000 square miles between Hawaii and California.

This is at least four times higher than previously reported. Beth Polidoro is a professor of environmental chemistry and marine biology at Arizona State University. She says plastics in these types of masses are not breaking down completely, instead leaving behind microplastics.

"These are in our drinking water now, and we’re still not sure, I think, of the health impacts, but what's scary is they're quite ubiquitous, they're everywhere," she said.

The study found 8 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is micro plastic.

Polidoro says there are garbage patches throughout the world, including the Atlantic and Indian oceans, but the Pacific mass is the largest.

Science Sustainability