Why Should We Care About Plastic in the Muskingum River?
1. Plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes. The death of millions of animals is detrimental to biodiversity and ocean food chains.
2. NTP expressed “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.” . Bisphenol A is commonly known as BPA found in many plastic bottles.
3. In 2006, NTP (National Toxicology Program) found that DEHP may pose a risk to human development, especially critically ill male infants. DEHP is found in food packaging plastics.
4.Plastic can chemically bind with PCBs already found in the Muskingum River leading to a higher consumption of PCBs when a human or animal drinks water containing microplastics. PCBs are known to cause cancer and PCBs affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and poses other health effects.
5. PCBs are the primary pollutant in the Muskingum River according to the EPA. The Muskingum River was accessed in 2008 and determined to be a polluted river.
6. Invasive species can attach themselves on floating plastic which allows them to travel further distances in the ocean and invade new parts of the world disrupting the native environment.
7. Much of the garbage in the Muskingum River will flow into the ocean. Much of it becomes microplastic which easy flows through any barriers. The plastic in the river poses an immediate risk to fish and birds who will consume microplastic, feel full, and then die from malnutrition.
Sources: Coastal Care, NCBI, National Health Institute of Environmental Health, Scientific American, EPA, EPA: How’s My Waterway, National Geographic, and Sky News Documentary: Plastic Pollution in our Oceans