“We’re not calling the concerns or the actions wrong,” Christopher M. Reddy, a marine chemist at Woods Hole and another author on the study, said in an interview. “We just have a new thread to add and we think it’s significant.”
The study was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, a publication of the American Chemical Society, a scientific group based in Washington.
The new study demonstrated that sunlight does even more, breaking down polystyrene into basic chemical units of organic carbon, which dissolves in seawater, and trace amounts of carbon dioxide, at levels far too low to play a role in climate change. By the end of this process the plastic has effectively disappeared from the environment.
In the paper, the researchers described the study as “the first direct evidence” of how of sunlight can break down polystyrene in the environment into its basic chemical building blocks.I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I do find it remarkable that it took so long to figure this out... (for those interested, the published article is here.)