Microplastic - eat - drink - breathe. Particles of plastic are found even in
Microplastic - eat - drink - breathe. Particles of plastic are found even in
Anonim

Each of us, or, to be more precise, the average inhabitant of the Earth, eats and inhales 330 microparticles of plastic per day.

Microplastics are found in polar ice, tap water, beer, honey, salt, sea turtles and mosquitoes. Tea pyramids leave billions of plastic particles in the tea after brewing. Even at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a plastic bag that would eventually disintegrate into small pieces was found. It turns out that microplastics already affects all world processes.

Sounds scary.

However, there are practically no studies on whether microplastics directly harm human health; no one is interested in funding them. Let's figure out what is the danger of pollution of the planet with plastic particles and what happens to Baikal, the Baltic Sea and the Arctic …

Plastic does not decompose in the literal sense - it is stable and only gradually breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Microplastics are any plastic pieces ranging in size from 5 millimeters to a micrometer, which are 40–120 times thinner than a human hair. There are also smaller elements - submicroplastic, and then nanoplastic. They are practically not studied, although it is already known that such particles can penetrate cell membranes. At the same time, what harm it causes to living organisms has not really been clarified yet.

Humans can also breathe microfibers in the air - both in the heart of Paris and in the distant Arctic. It is known that small particles in the air penetrate deep into the lungs, where they can cause various diseases, including oncology. Nylon and polyester factory workers have shown evidence of malfunctioning and volume shrinkage of the lungs of plastics. Although there was no widespread defeat of oncological diseases, they are subject to significantly higher risks than the average person.

Where does microplastic come from?

Now the world produces about 300 million tons of plastic annually, and most of it ends up in landfills. It is difficult to calculate exactly how much microplastics ends up in the oceans: according to some pessimistic estimates, this is about 17 million tons per year.

Microplastic is formed from bags, bottles, any other plastic packaging, car tires, peeling paint, it is contained in city dust …

And it is also washed off into the sewer after each wash of synthetics. Plastic granules are specially added to shampoos, shower gels, scrubs, laundry detergents and toothpaste for a better cleaning effect. The sale of glitter and other cosmetic products with plastic particles has already been banned in several countries.

The world's oceans have accumulated twice as much microplastic as previously thought, according to recent research. Scientists have used a fine mesh (100 micrometers) instead of the previous larger mesh (333 micrometers) to filter microparticles in waters off the coast of Great Britain and the United States. So they managed to find smaller particles. These data showed an increase in microplastics by 2, 5 times.

"The pollution of the world's oceans by microplastics is vastly underestimated," said Penny Lindeck, professor at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and research leader. "If the nets are even denser, we will certainly collect more particles."

And scientists from the University of Massachusetts, together with colleagues from Shandong University in China, studied the behavior of microplastics in soil and found that it is absorbed and accumulates in plants. The research is published in the journal Nature. Moreover, microplastics have been falling out with rain for a long time.

Only in the territories of nature reserves and national parks of the United States during the year, along with the rain, so much plastic falls out that would be enough to produce 123-300 million plastic water bottles, the authors of the article published in the journal Science believe. The study showed that, on average, 4% of the total atmospheric precipitation is made up of synthetic polymers.

Think about it - 4% of atmospheric precipitation is microplastic!

Plastisphere

The amount of plastic is an indicator of the influence of people on the planet: the more there is, the stronger the anthropogenic load. Plastic has already formed the so-called plastisphere - a new habitat. Algae and bacteria grow on pieces of plastic, animals live or hide. For example, hermit crabs use plastic bottle caps as shells, water strider bugs that travel across the ocean's surface lay eggs on plastic debris, and fish fry swim into bottles as shelters from which to observe.

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