Seabirds smaller, sicker from plastic, say scientists

After 70 years of industrial-level plastic production, the plastic-fantastic world of humans is making seabirds physically smaller and very sick from a variety of illnesses.  In fact, the birds are not only smaller in size, but they are now living with an alarming list of health conditions, including high cholesterol and kidney problems, after ingesting plastic debris.

Approximately 9 million tonnes of plastic is estimated to be floating in the world’s waters, with the number projected to grow over the coming decades.


Why is plastic making sea birds sick?

The researchers found that instead of the usual diet of fish, adult birds have been feeding their chicks with small pieces of plastic.  Nearly every seabird on earth is eating plastic; around 90% are carrying the material in their stomachs!

What is the solution?  (1) Significantly reduce the amount of items purchased made of plastic –opt for products made of natural fibers like cloth shower liners; (2) Contact corporation heads about reducing their plastic, as well as food/drink manufacturers on their websites and social media pages and tell them you want their food/products in glass; (3) Always recycle those plastics that can be recycled (check the bottom of the item for the recycling triangle); (4) Never leave plastic items at beaches, picnic areas or other outside locations–always pack them up and take them with you to be put inside your weekly recycling bin; (5) Contact your state representative and tell them that escaping to Mars is not the answer–lawmakers need to get busy now creating viable plans to clean up the mess we have made.



Journal Reference:  Jennifer L. Lavers, Ian Hutton, Alexander L. Bond. Clinical Pathology of Plastic Ingestion in Marine Birds and Relationships with Blood Chemistry. Environmental Science & Technology, 2019; Overview/ Study DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b0209


close up of two white birds

Also see: 

Seabirds are threatened by hazardous chemicals in plastics

An international collaboration has found that hazardous chemicals were detected in plastics eaten by seabirds. This suggests that the seabird has been threatened by these chemicals once they eat plastics.

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