Plastic Pollution Damages Oxygen-creating Bacteria

Did you know that a breed of bacteria that lives in the ocean is in charge of creating 10% of the oxygen that we breathe in? Presently, a new research has discovered that the plastic contaminating the world’s oceans is adversely impacting the oxygen levels that these bacteria produce.

In a one-of-its-kind research, researchers from Macquarie University in Australia have investigated the effects that plastics on a kind of photosynthetic marine bacteria called Prochlorococcus. The results are issued in the journal, Communications Biology.

“These micro-organisms are serious to the marine food web, contribute to carbon cycling, and are considered to be responsible for up to 10% of the accumulated global oxygen production”, states co-author Lisa Moore.

Plastics will be greater than the fish in the ocean

Up to 12.7 million tons of plastic penetrate into the ocean each year, becoming a risk to the nearly 200 marine species – ranging from mammals and birds to fish and invertebrates – that may digest it. In 2018, Medical News Today announced on investigation showing that humans also unconsciously use micro plastics and argues what the impact it would have on our overall health.

Lately, a study by the conversation organization Fauna and Flora International (FFI), who joined with two charities and the Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom, and observed the impacts of plastic pollution on human death.

The report discovered that every 30 seconds, an individual in a developing country ceases to death as a result of pollution from mismanaged waste. The issue of plastic contamination is growing and becoming worse, with forecasts recommending that by 2050, the ratio of plastic in the ocean will be greater than the amount of fish by weight.

Plastics create bacteria which produces less oxygen

The Macquarie University team exposed two different strains of Prochlorococcus to chemicals that they had retrieved from plastic grocery bags and PVS matting. They discovered that this uncovering significantly decreased the growth and function of the bacteria in contrast to the control bacteria.

The researchers examined changes in the expression of the bacteria’s genes, denoting that the genes were not activating in the normal way to produce the required proteins.

Most vital is that the researchers discovered that the bacteria that they revealed to the plastic chemicals created reduced levels of oxygen than the control bacteria.

What can an individual do?

If you are worried about plastic pollution and are interested to find out how you can assist, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) proposes tips for decreasing your “plastic footprint:”

  1. Use a reusable coffee flask. Less than 1% of disposable coffee cups are recyclable.
  2. Use a reusable water bottle. Disposable plastic bottles are the main reasons of plastic pollution on beaches and seabirds often ingest their lids.
  3. Stay away or reuse plastic cutlery. The average person throws away 466 pieces of once-used plastic cutlery every year.
  4. If you require a straw, use a paper one. Plastic straws and stirrers use up to 200 years to decompose.
  5. Use foil instead of cling film. Foil is recyclable, but cling film isn’t.
  6. Use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags. Disposable tea bags give way for micro plastics to our waterways and food chain.
  7. Leave gum. Chewing gum is usually made of plastic, but now plastic-free options are now there.
  8. Do not use glitter. Plankton and shellfish can take in this micro plastic. Nevertheless, like gum, lots of eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter options are available.
  9. Purchase milk in glass bottles instead of plastic cartons. Plastic milk cartons aren’t appropriate for reusing or recycling.