Microplastics- Not micro enough to be neglected on a macro scale (2021)

In a single day, our interaction with plastic is nearly after every other minute. But the problem comes when we are left to deal with the after-dumping effects of plastic. It’s easy to trace plastic trash in the landfills, over the surface of water bodies, but little did we know that plastic has managed to reach deep in the waters, in the soil, even in the bodies of living organisms.

During the research, it was found that out of 6 women, 4 of them had microplastics in their placenta. This was an alarm to trace the presence and impacts of microplastics in our life.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are not of any different material but the usual plastic trash which has sized down due to weathering. All these particles with size less than 5mm are labeled as microplastics. Based on the source of origination, microplastics are categorized as primary and secondary.

Primary Microplastics are engineered to be used for commercial purposes. It is usually found in glitters, nurdles, and personal care products in the form of microbeads. The shedding of microfibers from our clothes can also be attributed to the cause of occurrence of primary microplastics.

Unlike the primary, Secondary Microplastics are formed due to the natural breakdown of plastic trash due to environmental conditions or mechanical forces.

Understanding the traces of microplastics

These small particles were first traced in 1970 and since then they are easily found in depths of water bodies. Small fishes often consume them as food and hence traveling up the food chain these particles end up reaching humans too.

Microplastics affect aquatic life in numerous ways. Its consumption affects their growth, reproductive system and damages their liver too. Not only in the water you can easily find these particles in the soil, plants, and also in the air.

Often the fibers from our clothes, wearing from the tyre too generates these microplastics which contaminate the air and gets inhaled by living organisms. Apart from the air, these particles have reached us via freshwater and the food we consume.

But how this plastic is impacting our health is not known yet. Researchers are working on to know more about the impacts microplastics have on the health of living organisms and also on the environment.

In 2015, U.S. signed Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 to ban the usage of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and other personal care products using microbeads.

As there’s still more to know about microplastics we can always contribute our part- Refusing, Reducing Reusing, and Recycling.


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