What is the Pacific Garbage Patch?
90% of the garbage floating in the Earth’s oceans is plastic and less than 5% of all plastic is recycled. The patch mostly consists of pelagic plastics, formed from plastic bags, plastic water bottles, bottle caps and styrofoam. Plastic does not biodegrade, the sun breaks these down into smaller and smaller pieces through photodegradation, which is why it is so difficult to judge the size of the patches, since these pieces are not visible from satellites or planes.
Debris ranges in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets found in abrasive cleaners. Garbage from Asia’s east coast takes about a year or less to enter the Pacific gyre, while trash from the west coast of North America can take up to 6 years.
How does a Garbage Patch Form in the Oceans
The wind-driven, swirling current of the North Pacific Gyre gathers marine pollution, slowly moving it towards the center of the region and trapping it. There are 5 main gyres in the world’s oceans. A gyre is where currents of the oceans meet and form a whirlpool system. Most of the debris in the ocean winds up in one of these.
Cleanup of the patch is difficult due to the size of these patches and that the areas of high concentration are constantly shifting, along with prohibitive operating costs, and that no nation will take responsibility for it.
Where Does All the Plastic Come From?
10 percent of the world’s annual 200 billion pounds of plastic produced winds up in the ocean. It is estimated that 80% of the plastics in the garbage patch come from land-based sources (rivers and sewer systems emptying into the sea) and the other 20% from ship and ocean sources, (cruise ships, fishing vessels). A typical 3,000 passenger cruise ship produces over 8 tons of solid waste a week, much of which ends up in the ocean.
How Large is the Pacific Garbage Patch?
The size of the patch is unknown and estimated to be anywhere from 0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean. Most scientists estimate it to be twice the size of Texas.
What Effect Does the Garbage Patch have on Wildlife?
These patches also contain chemical sludge and other debris and the plastic can absorb organic pollutants from the seawater. Fish and birds eventually eat the plastic once it has broken down to small enough pieces, which humans then eat.
Water skater insects (Halobates Sericeus) lay their eggs on bird feathers, pumice and seashells and both insect and egg are important to the marine food chain. The accumulating microplastic has caused them to alter their mating habits and are now laying their eggs on the floating plastic carrying them out of their natural ecosystem.
Hydraulic fracturing (sometimes referred to as fracking or hydrofracking) is a relatively new form of natural gas extraction.
The fluids used in the fracking process flow back to the surface, often entering the water table or polluting the drilling area, and sometimes improper disposal of waste water from the wells.
As our technology advances, so do new forms of pollution and contaminants that effect our environment and our health.
Read more about drinking water contaminants and their health effects.
Chlorine has long been recognized as an oxidative agent, meaning that it not only kills the germs in the water supply; it will damage any living tissue with which it comes in contact. And your skin, like the rest of your organs, is living tissue. But that’s not the only problem.
Since the discovery of its health benefits in the mid-1940’s, fluoride is often added to the public water supplies of industrialized countries in order to reduce the populations tooth decay, which is especially effective in low income communities, where good dental hygiene may be too costly.
Chromium-6 was found in the drinking water supply of the southern California town of Hinkley and brought to national attention by Erin Brockovich.
The EPA is reviewing effects of Chromium-6 after a recent report brought to light dangerous levels in a number of major US cities.
Giardia is a flagellated protozoan parasite that colonizes and reproduces in the small intestines of humans and other animals, which can cause giardiasis.
Symptoms of Giardiasis usually show after 3 to 4 days, and include gastrointestinal and constitutional problems.
Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum.
Since a outbreak in 1993 in Wisconson, new attention has been focused on determining and reducing the risk for Cryptosporidiosis from community and municipal water supplies.
What is ultraviolet light? Do I need to filter the water before the UV process? How exactly can light kill organisms?
Visit our ‘How Ultraviolet Purification Works‘ guide to find out how it works.
The typical water softener is a mechanical appliance that’s plumbed into your home’s water supply system. All water softeners use the same operating principle: They trade the minerals for something else, in most cases sodium. The process is called ion exchange. More…
Step by step instructions on installing replacement cartridges and sanitizing filter housings. It is highly recommended that you clean and sanitize your system once a year.
Step by step instructions on making a connection with Twist and Lock fittings. Twist-Lock fittings allow you to connect and disconnect tubing without the need of tools.
Step by step instructions on making a connection with SharkBite Push-To-Connect fittings. SharkBite fittings allow you to connect and disconnect pipes without the need of using PVC glue or welding copper.
A micron is a unit of measurement for how small of particles a filter will catch. The lower the micron size, the tinier the ‘holes’ in the filter cartridge are that allows water to pass through, ranging from 0.1 absolute to 150 microns.
Use our Pore Size Efficiency Guide to find out what micron size to use.
Pleated sediment cartridges remove dirt, rust and sediment from water while providing an increased surface area and longer life. Pleated filters down to 5 microns are washable and reusable.
Use our Pleated Sediment Cartridge Comparison to find the filter cartridge you need.
When brewing beer with tap or bottled water, chlorine and chloramine present in the water can combine with malt phenols in the wort to create a compound called chlorophenol, which can give the beer a medicinal taste.
View our Filtered Water for Home Beer Brewing guide.
Bottled water requires a lot of resources to manufacture and ship, and costs a lot more than reverse osmosis water.
Use our Bottled Water Cost Calculator to find out how much of an impact you have on the environment.