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Microplastics - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore


What’s in news?

The study found that tiny pieces of plastic break down further during treatment processes, reducing the performance of treatment plants and impacting on water quality.

Micro plastics:

Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than 5 mm in length according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These include microfibers from clothing, micro beads, and plastic pellets

Nano plastics:

Nano plastics are particles that comprise various polymers sized less than 1 μm or less than 100 nm in size, respectively.

The term nano plastics does not describe a uniform material.

Key data’s:

  • Recently, the study was published in the journal Water Research.
  • In this study, the researchers investigated nano and microplastics in water and wastewater treatment processes.
  • Researchers have found plastics in our waste streams are breaking down into tiny particles, causing potentially catastrophic consequences for human health and our aquatic systems.
  • The performance of treatment plants reduced due to further break down of tiny pieces of plastics.
  • The performance of water treatment processes gets affected, by clogging up filtration units and increasing wear and tear on materials used in the design of water treatment units.
  • This finally led to poor quality of water due to their presence in large quantities.
  • Every year, 300 million tons of plastics produced globally. Among the total quantity, 13 million tons of that is released into rivers and oceans, contributing to approximately 250 million tons of plastic by 2025.

How it affects the human?

Because of the small size of nano and microplastics, they can easily be ingested by living organisms and travel along water and wastewater treatment processes.

Way forward:

  • Plastic materials are not generally degradable through weathering or ageing, this accumulation of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment creates a major concern.
  • A new system has to be initiated to manage the difficulty in detecting the presence of nano and microplastics in treatment systems.


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