This represents a major threat to human health, as microplastics have been linked to cancer, reduced fertility, psychological illnesses and birth defects. The chemicals in plastics are released into water and the atmosphere. Fish are easily contaminated by chemicals in the water. This is a direct link to how plastic chemicals enter the food chain.
See Earth Times for more information on this topic. Plastic waste can encourage the growth of pathogens in the ocean. According to a recent study, scientists concluded that corals that come into contact with plastic have an 89 percent chance of contracting diseases, compared to a 4 percent chance of corals that don't. Plastic pollution in the ocean has a devastating impact on marine life and ecosystems.
The most obvious is the damage that plastic objects cause to animals when they come into contact with them or ingest them, such as asphyxiation, entanglement, lacerations, infections and internal injuries. While there are still scientific gaps in terms of the exact figures, there is no doubt that humans are exposed to plastics through the products of daily life, as well as through the food chain and airborne plastic pollution. There are many NGOs and non-profit organizations that rely on donations to develop their projects and research to reduce and eliminate plastic from the ocean. Scientists from the SES (Sea Education Society) studied plastics in the Atlantic and calculated that there are 580,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer.
If you live next to a sea or river, you can volunteer to pick up trash in your local community, thus eliminating plastics from waterways and preventing them from reaching the ocean in the first place. An article about how plastic breaks down in the ocean and is ingested by seabirds states that humans will also be affected by toxins. In addition, plastics increase the risk of diseases by acting as a container for human pathogens that bind particularly strongly to plastic waste. For more information on Halden's studies on plastic at Arizona State University, see Impacts of plastics on human health and ecosystems.
There are efforts to protect the oceans from plastic pollutants along with human health, but they are mostly grassroots organizations. Rolf Halden, associate professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University, has studied the adverse effects of plastic on humans and, so far, has concluded that it is almost impossible to determine an exact summary of the effects of plastic on human health. In fact, plastic toxins not only affect the ocean, but by acting like sponges, they absorb other toxins from external sources before entering the ocean. This web article talks specifically about the Atlantic garbage patch and plastic pollution in the ocean.