Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 16 July
Pollution level: Moderate

Ocean plastic eXXpedition – making the unseen seen


Have you ever wondered what happened to that plastic bag that blew away in the wind? Or that plastic container that wasn’t disposed of properly? Well, most of the time it gets broken into smaller and smaller fragments, polluting ocean ecosystems and contaminating products and ultimately, ending up in us.

Scientists estimate that everyone alive today carries within her or his body at least 700 contaminants, most of which have not been well studied…

EXXpedition is a group of women who are on a mission to make the unseen seen. They are exploring the issue of these plastics and their associated chemicals that have built up in our personal and global environment that cause disease, in particular raising awareness of this linked to the rise in breast cancer rates. Their aim is to “engage women in scientific narratives relating to the consumer choices they make, and their long term health impacts on themselves and our environment”.

There are two main strands to eXXpedition’s journey. Research – exploring toxins in our seas, and MeSearch – exploring toxins in our bodies. A crew of 14 women scientists and artists have set out on a voyage across the Atlantic ocean, sampling for plastic and pollutants and its presence in marine life. Alongside this research they will be sampling their own bodies for toxins, as well as the genetic likelihood for disease using DNA fingerprinting tools to assess relative genetic risks.

The ocean’s litter and plastic problem is increasing at the same rate as population growth. The extent of this has recently been commented on in the guardian. The ways in which these plastics and chemicals enter the ecosystems are vast, and the pollution and litter that contributes to this is yet another material manifestations of our unconscious behaviour. However, despite these worrying messages there are solutions to this often overwhelming problem. The key message that exxpedition is trying to impart is the knowledge to take action. Through exploring nature vs nurture to personal risks of disease, they believe we can take charge of our future and make choices that have a positive impact on the health of our bodies and the seas.

To find out more about this inspiring group and follow their voyage check out the exxpedition website.

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