A new study carried out by researchers of Australia’s Macquarie University has revealed that plastic pollution of seas is having a negative effect on marine bacteria that produces 10 % of the oxygen we breathe. Their findings which have been published in scientific journal Communications Biology states that plastics are choking marine bacteria Prochlorococcus which has photosynthetic properties and produces oxygen like regular plants. Co-author of the study Lisa Moore stated that these microorganisms are very important for the food web of oceans as they contribute to cycle of carbon in the region and also contribute 10% to global oxygen.
Around 12.7 million tons of plastic that we dump into water-bodies like oceans and seas pose perennial risk to marine species like birds, fish and mammals that are likely to ingest it. A report in Medical News Today published in 2018 had shown that humans too consume micro-plastics over a period of time and that could have long term effects on our digestive system. A recent report of conservative group Fauna and Flora International collaborated with two charities to check the effect of plastic related population on humans. It found that a person dies every 30 seconds in the developing world due to pollution caused by waste that has been carelessly handled.
In fact the situation is so drastic that if current rate of pollution is allowed to continue then by 2050 the amount of plastic present in the oceans will soon outweigh quantity of fish present there. The researchers had exposed the marine bacteria Prochlorococcus to chemicals that are present in grocery bags and PVC mats and found that exposure to these chemicals reduced their growth and functions. Also these chemicals altered the genes of these bacteria and did not allow them to function in their natural way. In fact plastic pollution has widespread effect on ecosystems that are way beyond known effects on birds and turtles.