The Threat of Microplastics
Environmental protection and conservation are important issues these days, as the world population continues to grow amid increasingly limited natural resources. A hot topic especially among consumers today are single-use plastics, and how many people are taking great steps to cut down on this type of waste.
These are items like straws, plastic utensils, plastic bottles and the like that usually serve as food or beverage containers. In recent years, tons of such plastic waste have been piling up in landfills and bodies of water, leading to pollution and detrimental effects on marine life. In response, consumers have been leading a trend toward reusable containers and utensils made of wood, paper or other biodegradable materials.
However, what many are not yet aware of are microplastics—waste that is barely visible to the naked eye, which is also slowly becoming an alarming concern among scientists and environmentalists. Compared to single-use plastics, which is a waste management issue that is visual and can easily be addressed, microplastics are more complicated in nature to deal with and their negative impact on human and animal life is potentially more harmful.
Microplastics do not pertain to any specific type of plastic but are microscopic pieces that are making its way into the natural environment through human consumption of clothing, cosmetics, packaging and many other primary plastic products. Some are already in such microscopic form as it enters the natural ecosystem such as microbeads or fibers, while others are byproducts degraded from the wear of larger plastic items.
In recent years, scientists have increasingly been discovering the presence of microplastics in bodily systems of many animals, marine and otherwise, as well as in human feces. This points to an important concern about how living creatures are unwittingly ingesting and accumulating microplastics, and of course, what impact it has on health and life. This is the area of research of many experts and environmentalists today.
One thing is for sure, in that plastics are non-biodegradable and its presence in the systems of living organisms are not natural and may most likely have a detrimental effect. As such, the drive to control and manage plastic waste is important now more than ever. There is more than meets the eye, quite literally, when it comes to the issue of microplastics in the environment.