What are microplastics?


Microplastics are plastic particles having a diameter of less than 5mm. They can be of 2 types.


  • Primary- Particles were already less than 5mm diameter. e.g. microbeads, microfiber.
  • Secondary -Created from the degradation of larger plastics. e.g. plastic bags. fishing nets.

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The threats posed by microplasticsare :

  1. They are consumed by fish – stunted growth and high mortality. (study at a University in Sweden)
  2. Reduction in fish – affect aquatic life
  • food insecurity
  • unemployment
  1. Pollution and degradation of the aquatic ecosystem (research at Vembanad Lakh by ATREE)
  2. Contaminate soil – affect water holding capacity, microorganism activity – impacting agriculture.
  3. Being small in size they are consumed by humans – release of trains – cancer.

Microplastics are a new area of research and not much has been discovered about it. However, some of the sources are known. Certain steps can be taken to control it.

  1. Ban on low-density polyethene, it being the dominant constituent of microplastics.
  2. Banning plastic microbeads in cosmetics as done by the US government (2015).
  3. Efficient implementation of plastic waste management rules, 2016.
  4. Development of alternatives like corn starch bag as done b Maharastra government.

By undertaking control measures with immediate effect, microplastics can be controlled, thus preventing the harmful effects posed by the same.


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