Paint flakes are killing the ocean; Why isn’t the world listening?

Research has found that paint flakes are the most abundant type of microplastic particles filling up the ocean and threatening marine life.

The ocean is at risk, much more than ever. It is a known fact that the amount of contamination that has been flooding the waters is beyond anyone’s imagination. But now, the latest research is bringing up yet another piece of information that needs to be seen as a wake-up call.

New research findings say that paint flakes are filling up the ocean. They are the most abundant type of microplastic particles taking over the ocean, and that this material is said to be second only in terms of microplastic fibres that have been recorded at an estimated concentration of about 0.16 particles per m3.

Scientists who have been studying the phenomenon across the North Atlantic Ocean have estimated that each cubic meter of seawater contained an average of 0.01 paint flakes. To make things worse, chemical analysis done on some of the flakes that were gathered during the surveys threw up large quantities of copper, lead, iron and other elements.

Pain flakes rich in toxic elements point to disaster

The presence of copper, lead, iron and other elements could be due to the making of the paint flakes. The anti-corrosive, anti-fouling properties of the paints could be attributed to these elements. However, when they are dumped into the ocean, it does nothing but add to the environmental disaster, taking along with them the innumerable species living within. Their survival turns a far cry once they ingest these particles.

The study by scientists from the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association (MBA), and published in Science of the Total Environment, is indeed a wake-up call. Noteworthy is the fact that a good number of ocean plastics projects had been initiated over the past decades, and these projects have warned that there has been a humongous increase in open-ocean plastics ever since the 1950s.

A Physorg report quoting the latest study has pointed out that paint particles were mistaken for a component of marine microplastics until recently. And even as the world ignored the presence of paint particles in the ocean, they had been actually filling the vast waters. And with their abundance, toxic metals like copper and lead too also added to their presence killing many species of marine life.

Do not overlook the paint flakes’ threat to the ocean, says study

The study has found that the areas around the shelf seas of northwest Europe were the spots where paint flakes were more densely distributed. The study of these flakes revealed that the paint flakes found in the ocean were similar in composition to those found on the hulls and other painted components of ships in the Atlantic region.

All said, this indeed is a wake-up call. It is time that all nations of the world join hands to combat the various aspects that would end up killing the ocean. As the study points out, paint flakes are an abundant form of microplastic in the ocean and they should never be overlooked. Let’s hope the nations around the globe would listen.

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