Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Beautiful island fallen victim to plastic

Henderson Island, a remote Pacific island that belongs to New Zealand, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – yet six tonnes of plastic waste was collected there in two weeks.

“We found debris from just about everywhere. We had bottles and containers, all kinds of fishing stuff and it had come from, well, you name it – Germany, Canada, the Uniteds States, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador,” said Australian marine biologist Jennifer Lavers, who led an expedition to the 10 km long, 5 km wide Henderson Island last month.

The coral atoll, member of the Pitcairn Islands archipelago situated in the middle of the Pacific halfway between New Zealand and Peru, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 on account of its unparalleled purity and rich ecosystem. Yet thirty years later the ocean currents are delivering unending waves of plastic debris to Henderson, and today it has one of the highest concentrations of plastic pollution on Earth.

Lavers led her first expedition
to the island in 2015, and at that time found 700 pieces of plastic per square metre on its East Beach.

The pollution is made worse by the churning waves having reduced more than half of the waste to tiny particles that are barely visible to the naked eye, which are impossible to clear up but which are ingested by birds and turtles.

The marine biologist is planning more expeditions to the island in 2020 and 2021, but she said her experience has underlined the fact that clean-ups were not a long-term solution to the ocean’s pollution crisis.

Uninhabited Henderson Island is at the centre of the South Pacific gyre Photo: MTI/EPA/IMAS/Jennifer Lavers

Source: MTI – Hungarian News Agency

Further information: Phys.org

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.