Water Pollution

WATER POLLUTION

Widespread use of plastics, outside of the military, did not occur until after World War II. The ensuing rapid growth in plastics production is extraordinary, surpassing most other man-made materials. Its largest market is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers. As a result, the share of plastics in municipal solid waste (by mass) increased from less than 1% in 1960 to, according to the EPAmore than 12.2% by 2018.

The amount of plastic entering the ocean is on the rise: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics are added to the estimated 150 million metric tons already circulating, affecting 700 species.

The problem with plastic is that it never fully decomposes, and as it degrades, it emits greenhouse gases. These microplastics disrupt the food chain and kill oceanlife

To address the plastic epidemic Boyan Slat, at age 18, founded the Ocean Cleanup to remove plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. By 2025, the Ocean Cleanup project hopes to cut the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in half.

Ocean pollution also comes in through a number of additional outlets such as sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, garbage dumping, and chemical spills. Pesticide and fertilizer runoff are creating huge dead zones — oxygen-depleted areas where many marine species struggle to survive. The world’s largest dead zone, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is roughly the size of Connecticut.

CURRENT NEWS

Patagonia just designed its warmest coat ever, and it’s made from trash

By Elizabeth Segran 10/24/23
Every day, Costa Rica produces four tonnes of plastic waste and a fifth of it ends up in rivers and on beaches. To tackle this problem, a company called Bionic dispatches teams to collect the…
Read more

Ocean CleanUp Launches Huge System in Pacific Garbage Patch to Clean a Football Field Every 5 Seconds

By Good News Network 09/03/23
Last week, The Ocean Cleanup organization that has been tackling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch deployed their System 03 for the first time—nearly three times larger than the previous technology and capable of cleaning the…
Read more

Sailors Are Collecting Climate Data as They Race Around the World

By Siobhan Wagner 08/04/23
Round-the-world sailors can sense something is different. Steeper waves? Shifting winds? There’s no missing the calls to change course, sometimes drastically, to avoid icebergs in waters that were previously too far from the poles to…
Read more

Meet the trash interceptor called 007

By Tiffany Ujiiye 03/24/23
Los Angeles County's Trash Interceptor 007 is experiencing its first winter storm season and it's on a mission to collect tons of floating trash from Ballona Creek near Playa del Rey.
Read more

Scientists uncover startling concentrations of pure DDT along seafloor off L.A. coast

By Rosanna Xia 03/23/23
First it was the eerie images of barrels leaking on the seafloor not far from Catalina Island. Then the shocking realization that the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT had once used the ocean as a…
Read more

There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth

By Michael Birnbaum 03/08/23
A new study found far more plastic in global oceans than previously believed — and the amount is doubling every six years....
Read more

Microplastics are polluting the ocean at a shocking rate

By Matt Simon 03/08/23
Some 11 billion pounds of plastic particles are blanketing the surface alone. But a new study points to hope—if countries act now....
Read more

A Toxic Stew on Cape Cod: Human Waste and Warming Water

By Christopher Flavelle 01/01/23
Climate change is contributing to electric-green algae blooms. Massachusetts wants a cleanup of the antiquated septic systems feeding the mess, but it could cost billions....
Read more

Who’s Driving Climate Change? New Data Catalogs 72,000 Polluters and Counting

By Raymond Zhong 11/09/22
A nonprofit backed by Al Gore and other big environmental donors says it can track emissions down to individual power plants, oil fields and cargo ships.
Read more

Salt in water sources becoming worrisome in D.C. region, experts warn

By Antonio Olivo 08/08/22
The Washington region is growing — a metropolis of nearly 6 million people where area officials are pressing to build another 320,000 homes by the end of this decade. And with that growth comes an…
Read more

Microplastics are in our bodies. How much do they harm us?

By Laura Parker 04/26/22
A few years ago, as microplastics began turning up in the guts of fish and shellfish, the concern was focused on the safety of seafood. Shellfish were a particular worry, because in their case, unlike…
Read more

KEY RESOURCES

Pass the BFFP Pollution Act

05/19/21
Surfrider Foundation is working closely with allies in the Capitol to reintroduce bold federal legislation to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

Breaking the Plastic Wave: Top Findings for Preventing Plastic Pollution

10/01/20
First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.

Ocean Conservancy: Cleanup Report

11/18/19
Fighting for Trash Free Seas.

4ocean

11/18/19
We’re here to clean the ocean and coastlines while working to stop the inflow of plastic by changing consumption habits.

Parley for the Oceans

11/14/19
Parley for the Oceans addresses major threats towards our oceans, the most important ecosystem of our planet. We believe the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer – given we all have a…

Plastic Pollution Coalition

11/13/19
Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 60 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals,…

Ocean Cleanup, The

11/13/19
The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. A full-scale deployment of our systems is estimated to clean up 50 % of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch…

MORE NEWS

Disease-causing parasites can hitch a ride on plastics and potentially spread through the sea, new research suggests

By Karen Shapiro and Emma Zhang   04/26/22  
Typically when people hear about plastic pollution, they might envision seabirds with bellies full of trash or sea turtles with plastic straws in their noses. However, plastic pollution poses another threat that’s invisible to the…
Read more

EPA plans sweeping regulatory strategy for power plants

By Ethan Howland   03/11/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue a series of proposals covering air, water and waste pollution from power generators, especially coal-fired power plants, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Thursday.
Read more

Biden’s EPA chief puts power plants on notice for pollution

By Dino Grandoni   03/10/22  
Previewing a suite of new fossil fuel rules, Michael Regan said more needs to be done to clean up the air and water around power plants
Read more

Historic moment as 175 nations pledge to curb plastic pollution

By David Vetter   03/02/22  
There were whoops of joy and applause as assembled heads of state and representatives from around the world agreed Wednesday to draw up an international treaty to end the growing global tide of plastic pollution.
Read more

Science report: US should make less plastic to save oceans

By Seth Borenstein   12/01/21  
America needs to rethink and reduce the way it generates plastics because so much of the material is littering the oceans and other waters, the National Academy of Sciences says in a new report.
Read more

U.S. is top contributor to plastic waste, report shows

By Tik Root   12/01/21  
The United States ranks as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste and needs a national strategy to combat the issue, according to a congressionally mandated report released Tuesday.
Read more

Will Power is Key to Tackling the Ocean Plastic Crisis

By Tina Casey   07/28/21  
As Plastic-Free July draws to a close, the looming ocean plastic crisis is still growing by the day. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A new scientific study indicates that solutions…
Read more

Battling America’s ‘dirty secret’

By Sarah Kaplan   06/25/21  
Climate change raises the risk from failing sewage systems. So Catherine Coleman Flowers is working for a new way to deal with waste.
Read more

Dark Water: Thanks to exhaust scrubbers, while ships are polluting the air less, their water-pollution footprint is rising

By The Financial Express   05/19/21  
A move to reduce pollution of the air by ships, ironically, seems to be driving up water pollution, notes a report in Science. Sulphur from ships’ exhaust is a significant contributor to ozone depletion. International…
Read more

Guest op-ed: Pollution could be the downfall of humanity

By EJ Deuel   05/18/21  
Everyone contributes to pollution: me, you, your mom, your employer, even those who work against pollution. You see all over the news stories about global warming and the massive effects of pollution. But most people…
Read more

Half of single-use plastic waste produced by just 20 companies

By Reuters   05/18/21  
Production of single-use plastics is set to grow 30% in the next five years, fueling their contribution to global warming and ocean pollution, researchers said Tuesday as they published a list of companies that manufacture…
Read more

You Won’t Believe How Deep in the Ocean Plastic Is Found

By Angelo Young   05/18/21  
In the 1967 coming-of-age rom-com “The Graduate,” a family friend tells recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (played by a young Dustin Hoffman) that he should pursue a future in the plastics industry. In the scene,…
Read more

Delaware River may be dumping more plastic into ocean than any other U.S. waterway

By Andrew S. Lewis   05/17/21  
Each year just over 283,000 pounds of plastic waste are carried by the Delaware River and ultimately dumped in the ocean. That puts the Delaware at the low end of the 1,656 rivers the authors…
Read more

Twenty plastic-busting inventions to clean our rivers and seas

By Emma Bryce   05/10/21  
There’s an incomprehensible amount of plastic in the ocean – estimates put the known total at 5 trillion individual pieces, or around 150 million tonnes. An additional 8 million tonnes finds its way into the…
Read more

Why Rivers Are The Key To Rapidly Stopping Plastic Pollution

By Boyan Slat   05/06/21  
Close to 700 marine species are now known to be harmed by plastic, of which more than 100 are endangered. Its economic impact on coastal communities is estimated to be up to 19 billion USD…
Read more

Ocean Plastic Pollution Flows From More Rivers Than Previously Thought

By Olivia Rosane   05/03/21  
A new study published in Science Advances Friday found that 80 percent of the plastic that enters the world's oceans via rivers comes from more than 1,000 waterways. That's as much as 100 times the…
Read more
Vox

Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is “missing”

By Laura Bult   04/27/21  
A lot of the plastic we consume ends up in the ocean due to man-made causes, such as poor waste management practices. Some of it ends up there because of natural disasters. There’s a lot…
Read more

‘If we’re not up there cleaning up this threat, nobody is’: Team hauls more than 47 tons of marine debris out of Pacific Ocean

By Elinor Aspegren   04/22/21  
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that a team of scientists hauled 47.2 tons of marine debris out of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the North Pacific Ocean.
Read more

Plastic Bank Celebrates Stopping Its 1 Billionth Bottle of Ocean-Bound Plastic, Partnership With SC Johnson Accounts for Half of the Total

By S C Johnson   04/04/21  
Plastic Bank®, a social enterprise revolutionizing the global supply chain for recycled ocean-bound plastic, announced today it has reached the significant milestone of stopping 1 billion plastic bottles from entering the world’s oceans. Plastic Bank’s…
Read more
PEW

Microplastics Are a Big—and Growing—Part of Global Pollution

By Winnie Lou and Margaret Murphy   03/30/21  
Ocean plastic pollution is an urgent and global problem. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ recent report, “Breaking the Plastic Wave,” and accompanying paper in the journal Science, provides the results of an ambitious modeling effort to understand…
Read more

Researchers calculate the value of bivalves’ appetite for pollution. It’s huge

By Emma Bryce   03/05/21  
Oysters and clams are some of nature’s most efficient feeders: these shellfish slurp up gallons of water, sieving out food and nutrients as they go, and repurposing some of those raw materials to make their…
Read more

A Third of the United States’ Rivers Have Changed Color Since 1984, Satellite Images Reveal

Rasha Aridi   01/04/21  
The transformation from blue to shades of yellow and green raises concerns that waterways have been increasingly imperiled since 1984
Read more

The Ocean Floor Is Spewing Methane Due to Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

By Hannah Seo   12/21/20  
Out on the deck of a research boat, Tara Yacovitch looked out to the water. In the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the seascape is peppered with lights. And every light is part of…
Read more

Battling America’s ‘dirty secret’

By Sarah Kaplan   12/17/20  
Climate change raises the risk from failing sewage systems. So Catherine Coleman Flowers is working for a new way to deal with waste.
Read more

These Items in Your Home Are Harming America’s Sea Animals

By Catrin Einhorn   11/19/20  
A new report examines how plastic waste affects marine wildlife.
Read more

‘More Blue’: An Artwork Shows the Sea Changing During Lockdown

By Nina Siegal   05/27/20  
A data-driven media installation, created to reflect marine conditions around the world, has altered with the slowing human activity.
Read more

Microplastic pollution in oceans vastly underestimated – study

By Damian Carrington   05/22/20  
The abundance of microplastic pollution in the oceans is likely to have been vastly underestimated, according to research that suggests there are at least double the...
Read more

Hoovering the ocean

By Hugo Kugiya   05/13/20  
FRED, a solar-powered catamaran built by the organization Clear Blue Sea, retrieves marked water bottles during a test run in Mission Bay in San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker for The Washington Post)
Read more

Activists Find Evidence of Formosa Plant in Texas Still Releasing Plastic Pollution Despite $50 Million Settlement

By Julie Dermansky   01/18/20  
Wilson described the occasion as “day one of the zero discharge settlement.” As of that date, Formosa could be fined up to $15,000 a day if it were found still discharging nurdles. That would put…
Read more

Baby fish feast on microplastics, and then get eaten

By Matt Simon   11/12/19  
Fish larvae off the coast of Hawaii are mistaking tiny pieces of plastic for prey, an alarming finding with big implications for the oceanic food web....
Read more
CNN

He’s doing the ‘dirty work’ to keep plastic out of the ocean

By Kathleen Toner   10/17/19  
Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, hasn't had a weekend off in four years. But he hasn't spent this time writing briefs or preparing for court. His mission? Saving the world's oceans from plastic pollution.
Read more

Dead Baby Turtle Found With 104 Pieces of Plastic in Stomach

By Jordan Davidson   10/07/19  
A baby sea turtle that washed ashore in Boca Raton, Florida last week had 104 pieces of plastic in it stomach. The plastic products ranged from wrappers to balloons to bottle labels to twist ties…
Read more

Ocean Cleanup Project Finally Collects Plastic From Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Michel Martin   10/05/19  
That giant pile of plastic trash in the ocean just got a little smaller. Dutch inventor Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup project recently collected its first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Read more

Federal ‘Save Our Seas’ bill spurs debate over plastics recycling

By Katie Pyzyk E.A. Crunden   10/02/19  
A multi-pronged piece of federal legislation known as the "Save Our Seas 2.0 Act" (collectively S.1982) recently made multiple advancements, despite recent opposition. Two bills (S.2260 and S.2372) were passed in their respective U.S. Senate…
Read more

US drinking water pollution could cause 100,000 cancer cases

By Brian Bienkowski   09/19/19  
Contaminated drinking water—most of which currently meets legal quality standards—could cause an estimated 100,000 cancer cases in the U.S., according to a new report.The study—which was published today in the journal HeliyonHeliyon and looked at…
Read more

Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean

By Sharyn Alfonsi   08/18/19  
Discarded plastic is piling up around the world and pooling in the ocean. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on the problem's deadly consequences for wildlife and what can be done to stop it
Read more

Plastics Found in Rocky Mountain Rain, Arctic and Alps Snow

By Pam Wright   08/15/19  
Two recent studies found microplastics in remote, seemingly pristine settings.
Read more

40 Tons of Fishing Nets Pulled From Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Olga R. Rodriguez / AP   06/28/19  
Until recently we didn’t know how much plastic was piling up around us. When we found out, the picture wasn’t pretty
Read more