Israel's Dead Sea filled with microplastics, garbage - study

University of Haifa: Huge amounts of waste have been found at the mouth of the Kidron Stream leading to the Dead Sea.

 Plastic garbage is seen cluttering the shores of Israel's Dead Sea. (photo credit: Dr. Gur Mizrahi)
Plastic garbage is seen cluttering the shores of Israel's Dead Sea.
(photo credit: Dr. Gur Mizrahi)

Huge amounts of plastic waste have been discovered at the mouth of the Kidron Stream that abuts the Dead Sea’s waterline according to researchers from the University of Haifa’s Charney School of Marine Sciences who studied impurities in the salty lake.

“The Dead Sea has suffered from decades of neglect and exploitation, and unfortunately, the pictures speak for themselves,” said Gur Mizrahi, one of the leaders of the study. “The area is covered with microplastic that over the years becomes part of the coastal strip,” he said ominously.

“The Dead Sea has suffered from decades of neglect and exploitation, and unfortunately, the pictures speak for themselves. The area is covered with microplastic that over the years becomes part of the coastal strip.”

Dr. Gur Mizrahi

The research takes place as part of a course that uses advanced technologies, including drones, which is taught by Mizrahi, Dr. Yoav Lehan and Dr. Anna Brock. Its purpose is to locate plastic pollution and examine its impact and the annual drop in the level on the Dead Sea.

 Plastic garbage is seen cluttering the shores of Israel's Dead Sea. (credit: Dr. Gur Mizrahi) Plastic garbage is seen cluttering the shores of Israel's Dead Sea. (credit: Dr. Gur Mizrahi)

The piles of plastic garbage

When they reached the point where the Kidron Stream – which continues in a general south-easterly direction through the Judean desert in the West Bank, reaching the Dead Sea near the settlement of Ovnat – they were amazed to discover the piles of plastic, which included bottles of all kinds, plastic bags, containers and more.

“This is probably pollution that has been accumulating for years, when the annual floods in the stream push the waste closer and closer to the Dead Sea each time,” the researchers said.

“It is likely that a large part of the pollution originates from the Kidron Stream and probably other streams that bring and wash away the garbage we leave in the area.

“The issue requires immediate attention from the appropriate bodies and we as researchers and environmentalists are obligated to flood the issue,” Mizrahi concluded.

“The Dead Sea is a unique place on a global scale and it is important that we do everything to reduce the severe environmental damage we cause by exploiting and neglecting it.”

The research was led by Dr. Akos Kalman, under the supervision of Professor Beverly Goodman Chernov.