Plastic pollution harming bacteria that help us breathe

Updated: few hours ago

Melbourne, May 15 (PTI) Chemicals leaching from plastic pollution may be harming ocean bacteria which produce ten per cent of the oxygen that we breathe, a study has found.

Plastic pollution has been estimated to cause more than USD 13 billion in economic damage to marine ecosystems each year, and the problem is only getting worse with marine plastic pollution estimated to outweigh fish by 2050.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers from Macquarie University in Australia looked at the effects these chemicals have on the smallest life in our oceans, photosynthetic marine bacteria.

"We found that exposure to chemicals leaching from plastic pollution interfered with the growth, photosynthesis and oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean's most abundant photosynthetic bacteria," said Sasha Tetu, lead author of the study published in the journal Communications Biology.