Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hard plastics decompose in oceans, releasing endocrine disruptor BPA

Date:
March 24, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists have reported widespread global contamination of sea sand and sea water with the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) and said that the BPA probably originated from a surprising source: Hard plastic trash discarded in the oceans and the epoxy plastic paint used to seal the hulls of ships.

Scientists have reported widespread global contamination of sea sand and sea water with the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) and said that the BPA probably originated from a surprising source: Hard plastic trash discarded in the oceans and the epoxy plastic paint used to seal the hulls of ships.

Related Articles


"We were quite surprised to find that polycarbonate plastic biodegrades in the environment," said Katsuhiko Saido, Ph.D. He reported on the discovery March 23 at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, being held in San Francisco.

Saido and Hideto Sato, Ph.D., and colleagues are with Nihon University, Chiba, Japan. "Polycarbonates are very hard plastics, so hard they are used to make screwdriver handles, shatter-proof eyeglass lenses, and other very durable products. This finding challenges the wide public belief that hard plastics remain unchanged in the environment for decades or centuries. Biodegradation, of course, releases BPA to the environment."

The team analyzed sand and seawater from more than 200 sites in 20 countries, mainly in Southeast Asia and North America. All contained what Saido described as a "significant" amount of BPA, ranging from 0.01 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm. They concluded that polycarbonates and epoxy resin coatings and paints were the main source.

In research reported at the ACS's August 2009 National Meeting, Saido and colleagues first busted the myth of the everlasting quality of plastics. They revealed that light, white-foamed plastic decomposed rapidly at temperatures commonly found in the oceans. In decomposing, that plastic releases potentially toxic substances. In the new report, Saido's group now has added hard plastics and hard epoxy resins -- to the plastics that decompose under conditions commonly found in the oceans. Millions of gallons of epoxy resins are used each year to seal the hulls of ships, protecting them from rust and fouling with barnacles and other deposits.

"When epoxy resin breaks down, it releases BPA, a typical endocrine disruptor," Saido explained. "This new finding clearly demonstrates the instability of epoxy, and shows that BPA emissions from epoxy do reach the ocean. Recent studies have shown that molluscs, crustaceans and amphibians could be affected by BPA, even in low concentrations."

He said that waste plastics are finding their way into the environment through littering, and also may be carried by water into the oceans, spreading this pollution widely. Each year as much as 150,000 tons of plastic debris wash up on the shores of Japan alone, Saido said. Vast expanses of waste, consisting mainly of plastic, float elsewhere in the oceans. The so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii was twice the size of Texas and mainly plastic waste. Plastics are, in fact, the main source of garbage in marine debris, according to Saido. "This process is expedited by the low temperatures at which plastic degradation can occur, temperatures present in oceans," he added.

"Marine debris plastic in the ocean will certainly constitute a new global ocean contamination for long into the future," Saido predicted.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Hard plastics decompose in oceans, releasing endocrine disruptor BPA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184607.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, March 24). Hard plastics decompose in oceans, releasing endocrine disruptor BPA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184607.htm
American Chemical Society. "Hard plastics decompose in oceans, releasing endocrine disruptor BPA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323184607.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins