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.
The threats posed by microplasticsare :
- They are consumed by fish – stunted growth and high mortality. (study at a University in Sweden)
- Reduction in fish – affect aquatic life
- food insecurity
- Pollution and degradation of the aquatic ecosystem (research at Vembanad Lakh by ATREE)
- Contaminate soil – affect water holding capacity, microorganism activity – impacting agriculture.
- 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.
- Ban on low-density polyethene, it being the dominant constituent of microplastics.
- Banning plastic microbeads in cosmetics as done by the US government (2015).
- Efficient implementation of plastic waste management rules, 2016.
- 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.