Paint one of the largest plastic polluters in Earth’s oceans

New research reveals we are painting our oceans with the same bad brush

Net Hero Podcast

Paint is one of the biggest plastic polluters in our oceans.

That’s according to a new study from the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association (MBA), which revealed an abundance of paint flakes littered across the North Atlantic Ocean.

The researchers found that each cubic metre of seawater contained an average of 0.01 paint flakes, which would make it the second most recorded material only to microplastic fibres in the oceans.

The scientists found high levels of copper, lead, iron and other elements in the flakes – as paint is built to withstand weathering and damage. They stressed that this could have further threats on marine life, as well as overall health of the oceans.

The study showed more paint flakes to be distributed around the shelf areas of Northwest Europe, as opposed to more remote and open parts of the ocean – but warned as the amount increases the spread will be too quick to control.

Dr Andrew Turner, lead author of the study said: “Paint particles have often been an overlooked component of marine microplastics but this study shows that they are relatively abundant in the ocean. The presence of toxic metals like lead and copper pose additional risks to wildlife.”