Micro plastics : an invisible army waging a war on humanity

If we think the world’s population is out of control, then it’s nothing compared to an issue that permeates our water systems. Plastic in our oceans has recently received large amounts of press, and rightly so, yet there is a larger problem that is hard to sensationalise in the press as they can’t be seen: microplastics. It is estimated there is a total of 15 – 51 trillion microplastic particles have accumulated in our ocean. Much plastic pollution is in the form of microplastics, tiny fragments less than five micrometres in six size and invisible to the naked eye– they are hard to see and even harder to collect.

 

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Microplastics can come from larger plastic items as they break down. The Artic has the highest density of microplastics of anywhere in the world because of the cold temperatures causing the plastic to become more brittle. But much of the microplastics goes directly into waste water in the forms of billions of tiny beads found in cosmetic products including face wash and toothpaste (thankfully now banned in the UK). They can make their way into the food chain and recently have been found in our poop! 

You might not be able to see them, but they're in the water. Although trash heaps are easier to spot in waterways, microplastics-pieces of plastic smaller than five millimeters-have started to stir more concern. Acting as sponges, the pieces soak up the chemicals around them and often make their way through the food chain, ending up on dinner plates.

 

But we have to look beyond our oceans to our everyday lives to come in to contact with microplastics. Even when you think you’re escaping microplastics with bottled water you may be doing yourself more harm. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have launched a review after microplastics have been found in over 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands – twice as high as those found in tap water. 

 

The extent of the dangers is yet to be seen, yet scientists suggest a more toxic food chain, suppressed human immune systems, harmful for marine wildlife among a whole array of other problems

 

Can we ever escape this plastic problem? The only solution to protect our water ecosystems and our water bodies would be to say goodbye to plastic for good. It’s time for science and technology to step up, take us back to basics, and rethink our addiction to plastic. 

 

It’s time to end our love affair with plastic as microplastics are an invisible army waging a war on humanity and the Earth.