Microplastics

#GS3 #Environment #Pollution

Microplastics are among major pollutants of the marine environment along the Kanyakumari coast, according to a study by the Department of Remote Sensing, Bharathidasan University.

  • The study covered eight different sampling stations along a 71 kilometre coastline comprising both urbanised beaches and undisturbed coastal areas along the Indian Ocean. It yielded baseline data that helped understand occurrence and distribution of microplastics in near-shore sediments.
  • Researchers expect further studies to help understand how such tiny particles — less than 5 millimetres — are transported and evaluate their interaction with the region’s marine ecosystem.
  • Primary and secondary microplastics are found in coastal environments all over the world. They are much more hazardous than larget plastic particles as they get into all levels of marine food webs.
  • Researchers found an overall higher abundance of microplastics at urbanised beaches due to significant human influence. While tourist beaches had high levels, remote beaches and fishing ports also had large volumes of such debris, affecting the marine food web.

Microplastics

  • Microplastics are small plastic pieces of less than five millimeters in size.
  • It includes microbeads (solid plastic particles of less than one millimeter in their largest dimension) that are used in cosmetics and personal care products, industrial scrubbers which are used for aggressive blast cleaning, microfibers used in textiles and virgin resin pellets used in plastic manufacturing processes.
  • Apart from cosmetics and personal care products, most of the microplastics result from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic that were not recycled and broke up due to exposure to the sun or physical wear.
  • Microplastics damage aquatic creatures including turtles and birds. It blocks digestive tracts, and alters feeding behavior. Subsequently, it reduces the growth and reproductive output in marine animals.
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