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Posted Fri Dec 27 2013: from Los Angeles Times:
An ecosystem of our own making could pose a threat
The plastisphere, a marine ecosystem that starts with bacteria on particles of discarded plastic, is drawing increasing attention. Scientists fear it might host pathogens and leach dangerous chemicals... The plastisphere was six decades in the making. It's a product of the discarded plastic -- flip-flops, margarine tubs, toys, toothbrushes -- that gets swept from urban sewer systems and river channels into the sea. When that debris washes into the ocean, it breaks down into bits that are colonized by microscopic organisms, many of them new to science. Researchers suspect that some of the denizens may be pathogens hitching long-distance rides on floating junk. Scientists also fear that creatures in the plastisphere break down chunks of polyethylene and polypropylene so completely that dangerous chemicals are leached into the environment.
[Read more stories about: contamination, health impacts, plastic problems, toxic buildup]

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