Tiny plastic fragments have been documented in virtually every ecosystem on Earth.
Microplastic pollution is ubiquitous, but the processes that distribute the particles between marine, terrestrial and atmospheric environments around the planet remain poorly understood.
Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment. However, accurately classifying and quantifying them in the oceans has proven challenging for researchers.
"We keep putting millions of tonnes of plastic into the ocean every year. This research shows that it is not going to stay there forever. The ocean is giving it back to us," said researcher Steve Allen.
"It was very surprising to find microplastics so deep," researcher Winnie Courtene-Jones told Newsweek.
An international team of researchers describeD how deep-sea currents transport and dump large quantities of microplastic across the ocean floor.
"We have new species turning up that are already contaminated and so we have missed the window to understand these species in a natural environment," said marine ecologists Alan Jamieson.
The Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit municipalities from restricting the use of plastic bags.
The new estimate based on samples collected in California 8.3 million per cubic meter—not ten as previously calculated.
"We were shocked to see the high number of plastic particles released into the beverage," a co-author of the study told Newsweek.
The director said deep sea research is "shamefully underfunded" and called for a "global fleet of swarm robotics" to study Earth's oceans.
Plastic fragments are frequently ingested by a wide range of marine animals that often mistake the substance for food.
"It's highly likely that any pollution that impacts the health of soil fauna, such as earthworms, may have cascading effects on other aspects of the soil ecosystem, such as plant growth," researcher Connor Russell said.
Scientists studied the feces of people from around the world.
The masses of plastic could starve deep-sea ecosystems and hard animals, scientists fear.
The study "highlights the magnitude of plastic pollution," a professor of conservation told Newsweek.
Starfish from the 1970s were found to have similar levels of microplastics as those from today.
Researchers analyzed stool samples from eight countries.
"It has become clear that microplastics are dispersing all over the world—in the water column, sediment, and marine animal diets—even reaching as far south as the pristine environments of Antarctica."
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. Up to five trillion disposable plastic bags are used every year.
Scientists found the ice contained up to 12,000 microplastic particles per liter.
Scientists do not know the true impact of consuming microplastics. However, there are concerns in some quarters that ingesting these particles may pose a risk to human health.
Fluorescent dye could be the answer to finding the ocean's missing plastics.
The Atlantic Meridional Transect expedition team will get up at 4am to spend 12 hours putting down nets.