Plastics on the Sargasso Sea Surface

Science  17 Mar 1972:
Vol. 175, Issue 4027, pp. 1240-1241
DOI: 10.1126/science.175.4027.1240


Plastic particles, in concentrations averaging 3500 pieces and 290 grams per square kilometer, are widespread in the western Sargasso Sea. Pieces are brittle, apparently due to the weathering of the plasticizers, and many are in a pellet shape about 0.25 to 0.5 centimeters in diameter. The particles are surfaces for the attachment of diatoms and hydroids. Increasing production of plastics, combined with present waste-disposal practices, will undoubtedly lead to increases in the concentration of these particles. Plastics could be a source of some of the polychlorinated biphenyls recently observed in oceanic organisms.