The impact of microplastics to our Environment
In case you haven’t heard yet, microplastics are one of the most dangerous enemies of our environment.
You don’t know what they are? Well, they are defined as very small pieces of plastic, in fact their diameter is less than 5 millimeters long and can range from microscopic synthetic fibres to visible beads found in personal hygiene products and fragments that have been broken down by ultraviolet rays and ocean waves.
It’s precisely because of how small they are that it makes them so dangerous and harmful to our oceans, aquatic life, ourselves and the environment in general. They can easily pass through wastewater treatment processes and be ingested by many organisms including fish. These tiny plastic particles are threatening whole ecosystems.
If we look at some numbers from the “Current Environmental Health Report” issue published on August 16th 2018 about microplastics in seafood and the implications for human health we can highlight the following;
- Over 800 animal species have been contaminated by plastic and of those, 220 have been found to ingest microplastic debris in natura. Most plastic particles are found in the digestive systems during the dissection of animals, but smaller particles can translocate from the intestinal tract to the circulatory system or surrounding the tissue.
- When it comes to human exposure, seafood represents one pathway for human microplastic exposure, in 2015 the global seafood intake represented 6.7% of all protein consumed, which means that global per capita is over 20 kg/year.
Microplastics aren’t just a threat to the ocean, and although the consequences to people are still uncertain, there are concerns that microplastics can accumulate toxic chemicals and that they could even filtrate into our bloodstream. Studies show that plastic particles have been found in human stools which suggest that tiny particles may be spread in the human food chain, a small study examined eight participants from Europe, Japan and Russia. All of their stool samples were found to contain microplastic particles, which is pretty scary.
Unfortunately, it seems that this situation is getting worse but we, at Be ALAM, are hopeful that society’s awareness is growing. Even laws have been passed banning the use of microbeads in beauty products, we just hope it is not too late.