Written by Staff Writer
Humans’ habit of drinking seawater could be damaging the sea, warns a new study.
The team of scientists from a range of countries, including Spain, the UK and Germany, looked at 14 studies published between 1960 and 2012, and made a systematic review of the findings.
The research identified three ways in which seawater consumption could be harmful to the oceans:
–the change in composition to more CO2-rich seawater, increased marine pollutants which may compromise a marine ecosystem, and the conversion of marine biofuels to human-derived fuel.
–and perhaps most worrying, the use of refined seawater, which could end up diluted with other pollutants which build up in the seawater.
Among the pollutants most prevalent in seawater are petrochemicals, DDT, arsenic, mercury, nitrates, and nitrogen.
“We found that pollution, specifically DDT, remained substantially higher in aquaBio diets of large fish compared to other animals that are eating this diet, despite DDT being banned in fish production in the United States.
“Furthermore, air pollution and agriculture residues were the main regulators of the levels of DDT from the diets of large fish compared to other marine mammals,” said the team.
Seawater naturally contains several chemicals, such as chlorine and nitrates, that have bio-action. Because the increased environmental impact of large fish, a large part of which are consumed by aquaBio species, means the EPA is evaluating whether environmental factors such as effluent management programs will reduce the levels of pollutants in seawater as a result of these marine animals.
Additionally, the team said, the health of the sea depends on the composition of the sediments. Recent studies have suggested that acidity in marine sediments has been changing over the last century, which the team said was a result of rising CO2 levels in the ocean.
“Any drastic changes in the ocean pH mean more impacts on organisms living there,” the study’s lead author and vice president for research at Conservation International, Enrique Borrero-Gamboa said.
This acidification is not only affecting marine animals, but also many non-marine organisms like mussels and corals.
“The acidification that is going on is affecting coral reefs and making them more susceptible to bleaching. If the bleaching goes on for several years, the long-term impact will be very detrimental for both marine life and those people that depend on the food that these species give them,” said Borrero-Gamboa.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change , found that CO2 levels in the ocean will increase over the next 100 years.
“The oceans are already losing 40% of their oxygen-providing elasticity, which means we have to get rid of CO2 to make these oceans more normal,” Borrero-Gamboa said.