Essay On Plastic Waste

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Mismanaged plastic waste to blame for staggering disease rates on coral reefs, say scientists

Poorly-managed plastic waste drastically increases the risk of disease outbreaks on coral reefs, new research suggests.

A staggering 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of discarded plastic waste enters our oceans each year, with an estimated 11.1 billion individual items having become tangled in coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region alone. Disease-causing bacteria can colonise plastic litter, with the debris then spreading devastating pathogens to coral reefs around the world.

No prior studies have focussed on the impact of plastic waste on the risk of disease in any marine organism, let alone on coral reefs. As such, this research is of great importance in assessing and combatting skyrocketing rates of coral reef mortality. Over 124 thousand reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region- specifically Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Australia- were analysed by scientists for signs of disease. It was concluded that the likelihood of disease in corals that were free from plastic waste was a
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This is especially concerning, given that they form crucial microhabitats for many reef-dwelling species and are important components of fisheries. Startlingly, plastic waste was found on one third of the corals analysed, with around 2 to 10.9 plastic items on each 100 m2 section of coral reef.

Perhaps even more startling is the extent to which ocean pollution that can be attributed to human carelessness in managing waste. It has previously been estimated that 80% of the plastic waste that litters our oceans initially came from land. The researchers further concluded that the levels of plastic found on coral reefs corresponds to the estimated levels of plastic waste deriving from land as a result of poor management

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