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plastics and hormone disruption in animals-- a direct effect

  Just another reason why the plastics industry sucks...
  A recently-published study in the journal Environmental Technology
  underlines some of the potential problems of plastic debris accumulating
  on the sea floor.
  Plastics enter the coastal ocean from industrial, social and
  agricultural activities primarily through streams, rivers and storm
  water drains. Domestic wastes are usually the dominant contributor. Some
  of the plastics entering the ocean are lighter than seawater and
  initially will float, but will eventually become coated with sand
  particles, shell debris and other objects, and will ultimately sink to
  the ocean floor. Their ultimate fate is consolidation in sediments,
  where they may last for centuries or longer. Says the paper, "There
  appears to be an increasing flux of materials with time and an increased
  areal coverage of the benthos." Among the impacts such material can have
  is acting as surrogate hard bottoms which attract seaside organisms,
  altering the makeup of communities of organisms on the seabed.
  Floating plastic debris, including discarded or lost fishing nets, is
  already known to have serious detrimental effects on a wide range of
  marine animals. They can kill mammals, turtles, birds and fish as a
  consequence of entanglement or ingestion. More subtle effects can also
  arise. For example, a study of seabirds in the sub-Arctic North Pacific
  between the periods 1969-1977 and 1980-1990 demonstrated that plastics
  reduced steroid hormone levels and affected reproductive success. Some
  scientists have suggested that plastics are at least partly responsible
  for declines in northern fur seal populations, and one study found a
  clear correlation between plastics ingestion and reduced body weight in
  Source: E.D. Goldberg, 1997. Plasticizing the seafloor: an overview.
  Environmental Technology
  Charlie Cray
  Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign
  847 W. Jackson Blvd., 7th floor
  Chicago, IL 60607
  Ph: (312) 563-6060 x218
  Fax: (312) 563-6099
  Note new e-mail address: Charlie.Cray@dialb.greenpeace.org