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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Plastic is a slow and painful death sentence for whales

Scientists have studied the cetaceans washed ashore over the last twenty years. The saddest case was that of a 5.3 metre young sperm whale found on the island of Mykonos: it had swallowed 135 pieces of plastic weighing 3.2 kg in total.

According to the authors of the study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, their research was the first large-scale investigation of the issue in the Mediterranean Sea.

They found that sperm whales are the species at the highest risk of plastic pollution. Six out of ten animals had ingested plastic according to Alexandros Frantzis, scientific director of the Athens-based Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute and lead author of the study.

"The amount (of debris) we found is very high, and should set off an alarm. It is now something common. ... It’s not just that some random animal swallowed plastic,” he said.

According to Francis, plastic bags are a huge problem, not because they are more lethal than any other plastic waste, but because they are extremely widely used.

"None of us is innocent. Without our knowledge or intent, some (of the plastic that is swallowed by whales
or dolphins) may have passed through our hands. We may even have disposed of it in the thrash, and it may have been blown away from an open landfill.
These things travel, they have no borders,” he added.

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most polluted seas in terms of floating as well as seabed debris. Plastic is the main problem, it is even present in the deepest areas.

The sperm whales of the Mediterranean are endangered animals: they are run over by ships, they get caught in fishing nets, and the noise pollution from oil and gas production is also bad for them Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: AP

Hungarian water treatment plant in Vietnam

It was announced in 2010 that the Vietnamese government would like to build a water treatment plant in Central Vietnam. Hungary is famous for its water treatment technology so they decided on a Hungarian partner.

The Biopolus BioMakery in the Netherlands

The Trappist monks of Koningshoeven Abbey have been brewing beer since 1881, and in recent years, they have also been baking bread and making chocolate, honey and cheese. The water to be treated is the wastewater from these brewing and manufacturing activities, together with the municipal wastewater from the Abbey and the visiting centre.

Over two tonnes of golf balls collected from Monterey Bay

Specialists believe almost 30 kilograms of microplastics has eroded from such a quantity of golf balls into the water.

Algal blooms grow more severe in the great lakes of the world

Over the last three decades, summer algal blooms in all large fresh-water lakes around the world have grown more severe – this is the conclusion of a global study, the longest ever of its kind, conducted by researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science and NASA. 

The Pacific cleanup may succeed

The system created by a Dutch inventor called System 101, whose first trial run, conducted a year ago, had failed, has started collecting plastic waste on the Pacific again.

Hungarian innovation to filter pharmaceutical residues

Many studies worldwide have shown that the active compounds of medications are released into the environment with wastewater and can easily be reintroduced into the human food chain from there. Filtering these residues out is an increasingly acute concern, but, thankfully, the world of science has already responded to the problem.

Garbage from Asia has inundated an island in the middle of the Atlantic

Researchers from Canada and Africa have found a massive amount of plastic bottles, originating form Asia, mainly from China, on Inaccessible Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The bottles were probably discarded into the water and then washed up on the island from cargo ships passing the region.

Pharmaceutical residues in Hungarian waters

In Hungary, too, the active ingredients of various medications are discharged continuously into the environment with wastewater, so they can now be detected in surface and underground waters as well as in soils.

What can we do against pharmaceutical residues in our waters?

After being introduced into human and animal organisms, some pharmaceutical compounds are secreted via urine unchanged, and then, through wastewater, those compounds may reach surface waters that serve as drinking water supplies, representing a risk for both aquatic ecosystems and for the purity of drinking water.

Microplastics from an unexpected source

We’ve known for a long time that plastic food packaging, wearing car tyres and clothing made of synthetic fibres are all sources of microplastic pollution. However, a new study has identified a new source of pollution in our kitchens, or more precisely in our teacups.

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