15 EPA J. 23 (1989)

handle is hein.journals/epajrnl15 and id is 235 raw text is: The Coastal Environment
by Kathryn O'Hara


Hundreds of 30- and 55-gallon drums wash ashore on the Texas coastline annually.
About 20 percent contain hazardous substances or their residue.

e The National Beach Cleanup showed
how citizens, businesses, industry, and
government agencies-often in conflict
on coastal issues--can work together to
protect coastal areas.
National Beach Cleanup volunteers
found a total of 1,973,995 debris items,
including nearly everything
imaginable-from bedsprings and boats
to mattresses, munitions, and several
kitchen sinks. They even found 11
bottles with notes inside, including one
found in Connecticut with a note from
an author in France.
Plastics were by far the single most
abundant type of litter; approximately
62 percent of the debris collected was
plastic, far surpassing the items made of
glass, metal, paper, wood, rubber, and
cloth. The predominance of plastic is
not surprising, not only because of its
increasing use but also because it is so
lightweight and buoyant that it is easily
carried ashore by the currents. Equally
important, plastic is made to be durable;
so it has the potential to last much
S     longer than other materials in the
marine environment.
Over two-thirds of the 12 most
commonly found types of debris
recorded by the beach clean-up
volunteers were plastic. The 12 most
common items-the Dirty Dozen of

The volunteers found a total
of 1,973,995 debris items
including nearly everything
imaginable ....

(O'Hara is Director of the Center for
Marine Conservation's Marine Debris
and Entanglement Program.)

O ther articles in this issue of EPA
journal focus on the problems
created by the influx of people and
development along our nation's coastal
areas. This article describes another
kind of influx-thousands of citizens
flocking to the beaches to participate in
a National Beach Cleanup during the
fall of 1988.
Some 47,500 volunteers participated
in the cleanup. Here's what they
* More than 3,500 miles of shoreline in
25 states and U.S. territories were at
least temporarily rid of nearly two
million pounds of beach debris.
0 Detailed information on the types and
quantities of debris items found was
gathered on Beach Clean-up Data
Cards, then compiled and analyzed to
assist in development of permanent
solutions to our nation's marine debris

* 134,685 plastic fragments of larger
* 125,725 small foamed plastic
(styrofoam-like) pieces
* 112,465 plastic eating utensils-cups,
spoons, forks and straws
* 99,847 metal beverage cans
* 95,807 foamed plastic (styrofoam-like)
* 95,028 glass beverage bottles
0 90,998 plastic caps and lids
* 85,864 pieces of large paper items
0 78,025 plastic trash bags
0 74,672 miscellaneous types of plastic
0 65,819 glass pieces
* 58,116 plastic soda bottles.
If just these items were eliminated,


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