Virtually permanent pollutants

Many plastic waste items, such as plastic bottles, will last indefinitely (see Table 10.2). Glass bottles, if undisturbed by waves, may last a million years! Some radioactive isotopes are very long-lived pollutants. Addition to seawater of certain toxic metals may produce a long-lasting increase of their concentration in the sea. Even if the pollution ceases, the concentration of such metals may fall only very gradually, by dilution and by various processes of sedimentation and precipitation. Solid inorganic residues such as mine spoil may become a permanent part of the sea bottom.

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