Microplastic is emerging as a new threat to living being which is found in almost all forms of water sources.
• US scientists have found microplastics contaminating a groundwater source that accounts for 25% of the global drinking water supply.
• Facts: It is estimated that 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste has been produced since the 1940s, and 79% of that is now in landfills or the natural environment.
– Contaminating water sources: Microplastics are already known to contaminate the world’s surface waters, now their presence in two groundwater systems of USA is also found.
– Adverse impact on the marine life food chain: Plastic in the environment breaks down into microscopic particles that can end up in the guts and gills of marine life, exposing the animals to chemicals in the plastic. This further impacts the food chain.
– Lack of proper recycling facilities: Most of the particles (84%) were synthetic fibers, which come from sources including clothes, fishing nets and toothbrushes etc. It shows the absence of recycling and reusable facilities for proper disposal of plastic waste.
• According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than five millimeters in length.
• Two classifications of microplastics currently exist. Primary microplastics are any plastic fragments or particles that are already 5.0 mm in size or less before entering the environment. These include microfibers from clothing, microbeads, and plastic pellets (also known as nurdles).
• Secondary microplastics are microplastics that are created from the degradation of larger plastic products once they enter the environment through natural weathering processes. Such sources of secondary microplastics include water and soda bottles, fishing nets, and plastic bags.
• Both types are recognized to persist in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems.