This is the page for the Harmful Substances maps & graphics made by UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Geneva.
|Plastics Production (Keeping Track) (2011-11)|
Plastics decompose very slowly, creating a major long-term environmental impact
The amount of plastics* produced globally grew steadily from 116 million tonnes in 1992 to around 255 million tonnes in 2007, when the economic crisis led to a drop. But in 2010, a new record value of 265 million tonnes had already been reached. This total increase of 149 million tonnes in eighteen years equals a growth of around 130%, or 15% annually. The average use of plastic in developed regions reached around 100 kg per year per capita in 2005, whereas consumption in developing regions is only around 20 kg, with rapid increases foreseen in the next decade (UNEP 2011c). About 50% of plastic is used for single-use disposable applications, such as packaging, agricultural films and disposable consumer items (Hopewell and others 2009). Plastics debris in the ocean has become particularly notorious in recent years. Concentrated along shorelines or in huge, swirling open-sea gyres, such material threatens the lives of many marine organisms, especially seabirds and small mammals (UNEP 2011c).
This graphic is part of the publication Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment.
|2006 global dead zones (2008-06)|
The number of coastal dead zones has doubled every decade since 1960(1). Many are seasonal, but some of the low-oxygen areas persist year-round. More than 100 000 km2 of marginal sea are affected, plus numerous bays and estuaries which are the most altered(1, 3). The world’s largest dead zone is found in the Baltic Sea, and the second is the Gulf of Mexico. Oxygen-depleted zones shown are associated with either major population concentration or with watersheds that deliver large quantities of nutrients to coastal waters (such as fertilizers). Out of 350 areas spotted in 2006, 175 are of concern, 161 are documented and only 13 have shown improvement.
|Fishkills linked to HABs worldwide as of 2006 (2008-06)|
Harmful algal blooms can result in extensive fishkills. For example, during the night of 19-20 August 2003, millions of young menhaden were killed on the west shore of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island USA, probably because of oxygen depletion resulting from an algal bloom. The map shows the location where extensive fishkills were reported as of 2006.
|Nitrate in groundwater bodies (2007-04)|
|Nitrate vulnerable zones and water pollution hot spots (2007-04)|
|Number of registered active pesticide ingredients (2007-04)|
|Pesticides in europe (2007-04)|
|Water-related diseases in Europe (2007-04)|
|Nuclear concerns for the environment around the globe (2007-02)|