Plastic Vs Microplastic

Polymers are the primary component of a broad variety of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials known as plastics. Plastics may be molded, stretched, or compressed into solid objects of diverse forms because of their plasticity. The most common sort of marine trash discovered in our ocean and lakes is plastic. Plastic waste comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but microplastics are those that are less than five millimeters in length (roughly the size of a sesame seed). Larger particles of plastic debris that are discarded in the environment weather and deteriorate over time. These bigger plastic pieces disintegrate into progressively smaller fragments until they are reduced to tiny plastic particles resulting into Microplastics. Other plastics are purposefully made to be tiny. They go by the name of microbeads and are found in plenty of cosmetic and healthcare goods. They enter the ocean unmodified after passing via rivers.

Microplastics: A Concerning Issue

Like plastic goods of any size, the issue with microplastics is that they do not easily decompose into harmless components. Plastics can take hundreds or even thousands of years to disintegrate, and while they do so, they cause significant environmental damage. A number of health issues, including DNA damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress, have been associated with human exposure to microplastics, according to study. Particularly when inflammation persists over an extended period of time, this can lead to potentially significant health issues.

Toxic substances like hexachlorobenzene and DDT are transported or carried by microplastic. Long-term consumption of microplastics has the potential to alter human chromosomes, which can cause cancer, obesity, and infertility. Microplastics have been found to be endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with how hormones normally work and perhaps increase appetite. The microplastics may reduce food intake, impede growth, result in oxidative damage, and cause aberrant behavior in fish and other aquatic species as well.

Microplastics are Everywhere

And since, scientists have discovered microplastics everywhere they have examined, including in deep seas, shellfish, Antarctic ice and snow, table salt and drinking water, as well as in the air and in the rain that falls over mountains and towns. It may take decades or more for these little bits to completely deteriorate.

Microplastic Consumption

It may equal a credit card every week. People consume five grams of micro- and nano- plastics per week, according to new research. Microplastics appear to have infiltrated every aspect of our existence, including the human gastrointestinal tract, from the furthest reaches of the ocean to the deepest region of the lung.

Microplastics in Teabags!

A single teabag that got into the water was discovered to have nearly 13,000 microplastic particles by a researcher at Sakarya University. According to Meral Yurtsever's study, 11 teapot bags and 4 of 11 cup bags from various manufacturers had microplastics. Microplastics were first discovered in human blood, according to prior research from the Netherlands that published its findings in March 2022. In the study, polystyrene, which is used to package food and household goods, PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a plastic extensively used in soft drink bottles, packaged food, and apparel manufacture, and polyethylene, which is used in plastic bags, were all found in blood samples.

Therefore, customers are advised to use loose tea rather than teabags in light of the hazardous consequences of even teabags.

Ways to reduce Microplastics

  • Avoid microwaving food in plastic.
  • Change the way you wash your laundry.
  • Dust and vacuum often.
  • Purchase cosmetics free of plastic.
  • Purchase organic clothing (or clothing made of organic materials).
  • Reduce your shellfish intake.
  • Stay away from single-use plastics.
  • Use alternate or public transportation.
  • Use loose tea rather than teabags.

Keywords: Plastics, Microplastics, Solid Waste


About the Author: Iman Haroon is a graduate from Government College Women University Sialkot, Pakistan. She has done her bachelor’s in environmental science and is a green blogger who has volunteered to write for TENL in order to raise environmental awareness.