As a coastal area, Redcar and Cleveland knows all to well the devastating impact of plastic products being dumped in the ocean. For every square mile of ocean, there is approximately 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.
If that isn’t scary enough, by 2050 it’s estimated there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
However, one area getting considerably less publicity, and that according to many organisations such as the RNLI and Surfers Against Sewage drastically needs more coverage, is the impact of sewage and chemical pollution.
Plastic is only one aspect of waste that is affecting the habitat of marine wildlife, and beach-goers alike.
Dumped radioactive waste from nuclear reactors, industrial waste such as metals and acids, and drained sewage are also massive contributors to pollution, and can be just as dangerous.
People likely to spend a lot of time in the water, such as Surfers and Swimmers, are at particular risk but anyone can be affected.
Some metals, such as mercury, can be extremely harmful to humans.
In the last 20 years, mercury concentrations in the Pacific Ocean have increased 30 percent.
The impact of this is clear, as 90% of methyl-mercury exposure is a direct result of the ingestion of fish and shellfish.
Chemicals can have similar devastating consequences. Heavily polluted waters can cause reproductive problems, hormonal problems, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.
Groups involved in raising awareness are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of education in this area, and are fighting drastically to make up where they suggest councils and government are lacking.
If you’re concerned about some of the issues mentioned in this article, you can get involved through Surfers against Sewage, and keep aware of the status of your own beaches with the Safer Seas Service App.
Trainee Journalist at Teesside University