Entertainment Radio

Friday 19 October 2018

Radio: Plastic is drastic as we pollute even far-away ocean

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Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

'It's the sort of health news to toast with a cheeky tipple," announced host Andrea Gilligan on Lunchtime Live (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 12pm), with an almost audible smile.

According to new research, drinking a few glasses of wine or beer every night can help you live to your nineties. Can it really be so easy? And so pleasurable?

Eh, not quite. According to Dr Phil Kieran, a Cork-based physician: "If it was that simple, we'd all be doing it long ago." He described the findings as "an interesting study", but it was "probably a little bit false" to suggest drinking will automatically make you live longer.

Is the old maxim true, Andrea asked, that "everything in moderation" is the key to health and longevity? Dr Phil (sorry - couldn't resist) said some trials have suggested that "drinking small amounts of alcohol can have health benefits". Also - major plot twist - teetotallers "tend to die off younger".

However, we should aim for "as many alcohol-free days" as we can. And, needless to say, "binge drinking is very bad for your liver".

New research, of a more serious and depressing kind, was mentioned on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 7am). A NUIG study found that 73pc of deep-sea fish had ingested plastic. Dr Tom Doyle, lecturer in zoology at the Ryan Institute in NUIG, told Audrey Carville: "It's quite worrying, because it's such a remote location."

This is not a particularly polluted part of the ocean; they studied a location in the north-west Atlantic which is over 1,000km from the nearest landmass. These mostly small fish live 200-1,000 metres down and come to the surface at night to feed.

Ingesting plastic, Dr Doyle said, "can certainly cause internal physical damage, inflammation of the intestines, reduced feeding and other effects". And many have associated additives, such as colour or flame-retardant, which can then be absorbed by the fish, either from the plastics directly or the surrounding water.

What's most worrying, he added, is "the effect of human activities, even on fish that are so remote in the ocean".

The same station's News at One (Mon-Fri 1pm) added further information on this important story. The Greens and Labour are calling on the Government to push on with plans to ban micro-beads and micro-plastics in cosmetics and personal care products.

Dr Simon Boxall, from the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, told Claire Byrne that all this plastic "is coming from us": the north-west Atlantic is being polluted by many countries, including Ireland.

I was surprised to hear that a lot of this plastic is a result of the washing of synthetic clothes. Dr Boxall explained: "Some of (the pollution) is because people are careless, some comes from landfill - but a large proportion is from people washing cosmetics, and it gets down the sink, and washing our clothes. Most of our clothes contain plastic fibres these days."

Off the Ball (Newstalk, Sun 1pm) discussed the current trend of sports managers bringing in media bans. Joe Molloy and guests Kieran Shannon and Gavin Reilly examined Joe Schmidt in rugger, Jim Gavin in GAA and MTK Global in boxing.

Their conversation was thoughtful and committed, at times interesting - but also a sign that sport is taken way, way too seriously.

Not by Molloy and company: that's their job. Rather, society as a whole - and specifically, these "you're banned!" managers, and the people around them who facilitate such prima-donna nonsense. It really is "bald men fighting over a comb" levels of silliness.

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