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Posted Sat Aug 29 2009: from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
Plastics in oceans decompose, release hazardous chemicals, surprising new study says
In the first study to look at what happens over the years to the billions of pounds of plastic waste floating in the world's oceans, scientists are reporting that plastics -- reputed to be virtually indestructible -- decompose with surprising speed and release potentially toxic substances into the water.... "We found that plastic in the ocean actually decomposes as it is exposed to the rain and sun and other environmental conditions, giving rise to yet another source of global contamination that will continue into the future." He said that polystyrene begins to decompose within one year, releasing components that are detectable in the parts-per-million range.... his team found that when plastic decomposes it releases potentially toxic bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer into the water, causing additional pollution. Plastics usually do not break down in an animal's body after being eaten. However, the substances released from decomposing plastic are absorbed and could have adverse effects. BPA and PS oligomer are sources of concern because they can disrupt the functioning of hormones in animals and can seriously affect reproductive systems.
[Read more stories about: bisphenol A, holyshit, endocrine disruptor, plastic gyre, plastic problems]

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'Doc Jim says:
At least we'll eventually be rid of that unsightly Pacific Garbage Patch!
We hated the "pacific gyre" continent of plastic when we imagined the plastic slowly breaking up into plankton-sized bits, ready for ingestion. Now, it's looking like that twice-the-size-of-Texas slurry of plastic will just be a continuous slow poison for life within the Pacific. Hey swell, humans: you didn't just shit in your nest, you're crapping on your own freakin' pillow.

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