August 9, 2020

Experts say that the Caribbean of Panama and Colombia is plagued with microplastics

The Caribbean coast of Panama is four times more contaminated with microplastics than the beaches of the Pacific, a situation similar to that registered in Colombia, experts said Friday that they presented in the Panamanian capital the main results of investigations in this regard.

"The Caribbean side is four times more polluted than the Pacific," said the researcher at the Center for Hydraulic and Hydrotechnical Research of the Technological University of Panama, Denise Delvalle, a fact that does not "correspond to the population in that area" , since the Pacific area has more urban areas.

Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter, and are divided into two categories: primary, normally used for cosmetic uses, and secondary, those caused by erosion of the sea or the sun, such as a plastic bottle that crumbles, as explained to Efe the researcher of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Research José Benito Vives de Andréis de Colombia, Ostin Garcés.

The most affected areas are those where the tourism sector is greater, such as the Guna Yala region, the Panamanian Caribbean archipelago with its own autonomy where the Guna inhabit, one of the seven native towns of Panama, since only on the island of Playa Chicón found 385 microplastics per square meter, according to data from Panamanian researcher Delvalle.

The abundance of these microplastics is mainly due to "unintentional spills in the ports and that the marine currents reach the coasts", or a bad management of solid waste, the researcher told Efe.

The type of plastic that is most abundant in the Caribbean of Panama is the "pellet, plastic used as raw material in the factories that produce plastic bottles or bags", while in the Pacific there is a large amount of expanded polystyrene.

However, the Caribbean of Panama is not the only one affected: "the highest concentrations of microplastics in Colombia are in the Caribbean, mainly in the areas of greater population such as Cartagena de Indias and Santa Marta," said Garcés.

According to the researcher Garcés, the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Colombia can find up to 8,000 microplastics per liter of water and 1,000 microplastics per square meter of beach.

These microparticles are found both in the sand and in the water, which causes the marine fauna to ingest them, and as a consequence of the food pyramid, reach the body of human beings, affecting health.

"The route of exposure of microplastics in humans can be by air or through the intake of contaminated water or food," the doctor of the Center for Drug and Toxic Information and Information Research at the University of Panama told Efe, Hildaura Patiño.

Persistent organic microplastics "are harmful to health in the concept of endocrine disruptors, can generate immunological and cardiological problems, even cancer problems," he added.

. (tagsToTranslate) Experts (t) Caribbean (t) Panama (t) Colombia (t) microplastics

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