Plastic and its consequences
Plastic is made up of synthetic organic polymers which are formed through the connection of many smaller molecule components. These plastics are produced from fossil fuels, for example, oil and gas. Plastic is used for many products and has already replaced materials, such as paper, glass and wood in many areas. Plastic products are not only inexpensive to produce but they are also quite durable, light and at the same time very stable. But many of these characteristics now constitute a huge problem. Plastic does not easily biologically degrade; it accumulates in the environment and often remains there for many decades. Today, huge amounts of plastic float world-wide in our seas, from pole to pole and from the surface of the sea to the deep sea. A majority is floating on the ocean surface and is transported by currents over long distances. Although plastic practically does not decompose, larger parts are reduced to smaller parts of varying sizes by wind, salt and weather. Those smaller than 5 mm in size are called micro plastics. They can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Practically all sea animals, from the big whale to the small copepod swallow waste, which can strangulate, suffocate or starve them. The potential risk of plastic is higher when the direct effects of ingesting plastic, such as constipation and injuries to the digestive tract interact with the chemical pollution of the environment, because plastic can accumulate organic pollutants and heavy metals to a high degree and can therefore serve as a means of transport for pollutants into sea organisms. Additionally, pollutants such as plasticizers added during production can dissolve in the ocean. Many of the pollutants also have hormonal effects and can even be carcinogenic.