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Harmful Chemicals In The Ocean

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

By Kaeley Sterkel

Chemical use in today’s industry has provoked pressing environmental and health challenges that require new up to date safety evaluations as well as disposal directions for the community, companies and statewide. Hundreds of new chemicals are introduced to the market every year and tens of thousands of more are currently being use without the understanding of potential risk.t is hard to think that the American people would let harmful chemicals to be used recklessly, not that long ago we were spraying DDT on to every surface and putting lead into every object. The results from these harmful chemicals are not only alarming to our health but to our environment

Harming the Environment

The most abundant way that chemicals are affecting the environment is from runoff. This could come from companies’ production sites, agricultural farming, or federally owned land. At one point or another this runoff leads straight to the ocean. Chemicals have had a harmful impact on aquatic life such as 2/3 of the aquatic life is endangered species due to this improper disposal. The harm can start as little as plankton and then grow as it moves higher up the food chain. If the chemicals are affecting the plankton, it is simultaneously affecting the coral life as well by depleting the polyp life that grows on the coral. There have been tests done to beached marine mammals that show a dangerously high level of chemical components within the animals’ hormones and blood. This process is called biomagnification and allows the toxin to accumulate in high concentrations as it moves higher up the food chain.

What is Being Done?

The EPA has dedicated the past 4 years to simulate a strategic plan for the need of chemical safety research. There have been many movements towards implementing the Toxic Substance Control Act to ensure that new as well as existing chemicals/pesticides are reviewed for their potential risk to human life as well as for the environment. This method has contributed to the elimination of DDT and lead. There will also be regular chemical assessment, regulated, and management correlated to organizations and agricultural land by multiple EPA programs to bring awareness to the groups who are causing the most harm. The Chemical Safety and Sustainability (CSS) will use its tools, data, and models to inform decisions on how to handle these chemicals and toxins. One of the major goals of this program is to determine the long-term effects that these toxins have on humans and the environment. Once we can understand that, scientists will have a better grasp as to how we can stop it. If we are able to expand on our existing chemical inventories and understand the limitations and potential human and ecological effects then we can help the EPA make better decisions about chemical production and reduce the use of vertebrates for testing.

Easy Things You Can Do To Protect The Ocean

-Use and dispose of harmful materials properly

Don't dump hazardous waste on the ground. It can contaminate the soil, which could also contaminate the groundwater or nearby surface water. A number of products used at home contain hazardous or toxic substances that can contaminate ground or surface waters, such as:

  • Motor oil

  • Pesticides

  • Leftover paints or paint cans

  • Mothballs

  • Flea collars

  • Household cleaners

  • Medicines

-Think Twice About Lawn and Garden Chemicals

Limit the use of pesticides or fertilizers and always follow the label directions. Many fertilizers and pesticides contain harmful chemicals which can travel through the soil and contaminate groundwater or run off in stormwater to rivers, streams, lakes ending up in the ocean.

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