Each year, more than 200 million people in developing countries are at increased risk from floods caused by plastic trash, according to the environmental company Resource Future and the charity Tearfund. Bags, packaging and other waste clog rainwater drains, amplifying the destructive effect of floods.
The researchers noted that the number of people affected by more severe floods is equivalent to the populations of Britain, France and Germany. One-fifth of those at risk (about 41 million people) are elderly, children and people with disabilities.
The main causes of floods are
Densely populated slums in South and East Asia and the Pacific, as well as sub-Saharan Africa, are likely to experience the worst effects of plastic-induced flooding. This is due to rapid and poorly planned development in areas that often lack flood mitigation infrastructure.
Researchers specified that plastic debris can cause water levels to rise by one meter in the first hour of a flood. Drainage systems are clogged by bottles, nylon fibers from fishing nets and plastic bags.
Consequences of plastic pollution
Plastic clogged drains not only interfere with sediment drainage, but also threaten public health because stagnant water produces pathogens of dangerous diseases, including cholera and diarrhea.
The exclusion of coastal communities and small island developing states from the study is because plastic trash is unlikely to affect coastal flooding.
Limitations of the study
The authors of the report noted that so far there have been no case studies with sufficient modeling to accurately calculate the effect of plastic pollution on the strength of flooding. Nevertheless, the creators of the report believe their conclusions are close to reality.
Experts note that the problem of plastic pollution is global and requires international attention. According to scientists, it is necessary to develop plans for the disposal of plastic waste and the construction of infrastructure to mitigate the effects of floods.