Examples of hazards
Marine waters can be negatively impacted by human activities. Marine water contamination risks include chemical hazards, radiation, and physical and microbiological hazards.
Fuel spills: Oil and fuel leaks from marine vessels contaminate the marine environment and are a concern when food sources and marine animals are affected.
Sunscreen: Swimmer pollution from sunscreen and suntan lotion is known to damage coral reefs. Chemicals such as zinc oxide, found in sunscreen, cause bleaching.
Iodine-131, Cesium-134, Cesium-137: A massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011 caused the nuclear power plant in Fukushima to fail. Several radioactive isotopes were released into the marine environment from nuclear fuel leaks.
Acoustic waves & sound: Marine mammals including southern resident killer whales are negatively impacted by the sounds of commercial and recreational vessels.
Debris: A massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 washed out structures in Japan. Debris from the event was found on North American coastlines several years later.
Plastics, microplastics & garbage: There are an estimated five trillion pieces of plastic floating in the sea, a major source of pollution. Plastics and microplastics are found in marine species and have been found in our foods.
Norovirus: Norovirus is the most common foodborne illness in Canada. Over one million people (1 in 8) become ill with foodborne norovirus every year. When human sewage enters the marine environment it can contaminate our food supply. This has caused several outbreaks of norovirus in recent years.