Ocean pollution is pervasive and worsening, posing a clear and present hazard to human health and well-being. However, the magnitude of this threat has not been well appreciated until now. The new research is the first to give a complete assessment of the effects of ocean pollution on human health.
What contributes to ocean pollution?
Toxic metals, plastics, manufactured chemicals, petroleum, urban and industrial wastes, pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceutical compounds, agricultural runoff, and sewage all contribute to ocean pollution.
More than 80% comes from land-based sources and enters the seas via rivers, runoff, atmospheric deposition (airborne pollutants are thrown into the ocean by rain and snow) and direct dumping (pollution from waste water treatment facilities and abandoned garbage).Ocean pollution is most severe along the coasts and is most concentrated along the shores of low- and middle-income countries.
Ocean pollution may also be found well outside national authorities in the open oceans, deepest oceanic tunnels, and on remote island coasts. Pollution in the ocean knows no bounds.
What are the dangers of ocean pollution on human health?
The most obvious component of ocean pollution is plastic debris.
Every year, more than 10 million tonnes of plastic enter the waters. The bulk of material degrades into microplastic particles, which settle in coastal and deep-sea sediments. Some huge pieces float in the ocean for decades, eventually accumulating into vast concentrations where currents converge and circulate.
What effect is caused by micro plastics?
Microplastics are made up of a variety of harmful compounds that are added to plastics to make them more flexible, colourful, waterproof, or flame-resistant. Carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors — substances that interact with hormones and can cause cancer, birth abnormalities, and decreased fertility – are examples of these.
These chemical-laden particles make their way into the food chain, where they accumulate in fish and shellfish. When we eat seafood tainted with these materials, we consume millions of microplastic particles as well as the other toxins they contain. Though the dangers of microplastics to people are still being debated, exposure to these substances raises the likelihood of all diseases that they cause. Today, almost all of us have microplastics in our bodies.
Effect of mercury in oceans:
Mercury is abundant in the seas, and the primary source is coal combustion in houses and industry. Mercury is present in every coal, and as it burns, mercury vaporizes, enters the atmosphere, and finally washes into the sea.
Another source is gold mining, since mercury is used to dissolve gold from ore. Mercury may build up to dangerous amounts in predatory fish like tuna and swordfish, which we consume. Contaminated seafood is extremely harmful if consumed by pregnant women. Mercury exposure in the womb can harm developing brains, lowering IQ and raising the likelihood of autism, ADHD, and other learning difficulties. Mercury exposure in adults raises the risk of heart disease and dementia.
Effect of petroleum on oceans
Petroleum pollution from oil spills endanger the marine microorganisms that create a large portion of the Earth's oxygen by lowering their photosynthetic capability. These useful microbes use solar energy to convert CO2 in the atmosphere into oxygen, and they are also impacted by organic pollutants and other toxins. The consequences of a massive oil spill can be enormous.
The frequency of dangerous algal blooms, known as red tides, brown tides, and green tides, is increasing due to coastal pollution from industrial waste, agricultural runoff, pesticides, and sewage.
Dangerous microorganisms emerge as a result of a combination of coastal pollution and rising oceans, which promotes their spread. Harmful bacteria, such as the vibrio species, which are present in warmer seas, cause vibriosis, a potentially lethal condition, which is increasingly spreading and causing life-threatening illnesses.
Environmental protection is a worldwide problem and our joint obligation.
Netsol Water believes that everyone should recognize the seriousness of ocean pollution, accept its mounting risks, involve civil society, and take bold, evidence-based action to halt pollution at the source in order to prevent ocean pollution and protect our own health.