Professor Jacqueline McGlade and Professor Philip Landrigan
Ocean pollution is widespread, worsening, and poses a clear and present danger to human health and wellbeing. But the extent of this danger has not been widely comprehended – until now. Our recent study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the impacts of ocean pollution on human health.
Ocean pollution is a complex mixture of toxic metals, plastics, manufactured chemicals, petroleum, urban and industrial wastes, pesticides, fertilisers, pharmaceutical chemicals, agricultural runoff, and sewage. More than 80% arises from land-based sources and it reaches the oceans through rivers, runoff, deposition from the atmosphere – where airborne pollutants are washed into the ocean by rain and snow – and direct dumping, such as pollution from waste water treatment plants and discarded waste. Ocean pollution is heaviest near the coasts and most highly concentrated along the coastlines of low-income and middle-income countries.
Ocean pollution can also be found far beyond national jurisdictions in the open oceans, the deepest oceanic trenches, and on the shores of remote islands. Ocean pollution knows no borders.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade is Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development at the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) and lead scientist for PROCOL Kenya. She tweets @jacquiemcglade
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