This ‘cocktale’ hour was serious business

Chemicals are no social lubricant in aquatic environments

Prof. Chelsea M. Rochman addresses a group at the Leaside library branch on the topic of aquatic pollution. (Photo by Emily Chavez)
East York residents were recently invited to join Professor Chelsea M. Rochman who hosted a “Chemical Cocktale” at the Leaside library.

Rochman spoke on the impact of plastics and other chemicals in aquatic environments. She has worked closely with the Ocean Conservancy Program and studies implications of anthropogenic pollutants in freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Rochman spoke of the many dangers that plastic has on our great bodies of water, and just how much sea life is affected by these pollutants.

“In our ocean, 90 per cent of floating litter is plastic,” she said, “with 80 per cent of the litter coming from land, and only 20 per cent from ships.”

Not only are the oceans filled with litter, including the so-called North Pacific Garbage Patch, but Rochman explained how greatly affected the surrounding wildlife is.

“It is so sad that one million sea birds are entangled by plastic every year,” she said, “and more than 690 species of animals have been entangled or eaten plastic debris.”

Rochman went further, to discuss other chemicals that affect the aquatic envrionments. She explained how microplastic is found in the gut of more than 220 species of animals. This means that fish that are bought at a fish market or your local grocery store could potentially have plastic chemicals in it, and the risks continue climbing.

Irene Marushko chimed in toward the meeting’s end. Marushko identified herself as an activist and journalist, and she said she attended an ecological seminar the night before and was more than willing to share her findings. After the meeting, she shared them with a reporter.

Marushko is trying to start a group to help make signage in her Thorncliffe Park apartment building more visible, to help bring change.

“The issue is that they are not informing people enough,” she said. “The signage in the building just isn’t enough.”