microplastic research paper

Since the microplastic crisis in the earth’s oceans presents dangerous health concerns to humans and marine life, humans must significantly reduce the amount of plastics in their lives.

More than 8 million tons of plastics are dumped into the ocean on a yearly basis (“Microplastics a Threat”). Rick Noack, an author for the Washington Post wrote that globally, the production of plastic rose from 2 million tons to 381 million between 1950 and 2015. Microplastics are a byproduct of larger pieces of plastic found in the ocean that degrade over time into tiny, potentially toxic, sesame seed sized particles. Microplastics originate from not only obvious plastic products, but from other common products including road paint, synthetic fabrics, and vehicle dust (“Microplastics a Threat”). According to an article from Daily News Egypt, every kilometer of the ocean contains around 63,320 microplastics. Scientists have also estimated that there are more than 51 trillion microplastics in the ocean; that is greater than 500 times the number of stars in the galaxy (“Microplastics a Threat”). (note to self: reword better)

Recent evidence shows that a growing number of microplastics being found around the globe pose threats to the oceanic biota which eventually affects human health. Many scientists and researchers predict that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. Another recent study has shown that in Indonesia and California, 25% of the marine fish sold in markets had plastic and textile fibers in their bodies (“Is Marine Plastic Pollution a Threat”). A study done in South China analyzed the level of microplastic contamination of 24 different species found in the Beibu Gulf. Twelve of the species in the study were found to have 57.7% microplastics in their stomachs, 34.6% in their intestines and 7.7% in their gills. Microplastics have been found in various unexpected environments such as the Arctic Circle and Mongolian mountain lakes. According to researchers in Taichung, Taiwan, “Plastic products are inexpensive, convenient, and have many applications in daily life. We overuse plastic-related products and ineffectively recycle plastic that is difficult to degrade.” The contamination of the oceans, waterways and marine life are critical reasons why humans need to significantly reduce the use of plastic on a daily basis. Do you need this…( According to Liisa Jantunen, a microplastic researcher in the Great Lakes as well as the Canadian Arctic Circle, because of their size, microplastics are easily transported by winds from urban areas to places as far as the Arctic Circle. Researchers in the Arctic Circle discovered in every liter of snow, about 14,000 individual microplastics.

Although people around the globe are familiar with the idea of basic plastic pollution, the public knows little about microplastics and the effects that they can have on human health. The microplastics in the ocean are eaten by the small organisms at the bottom of the food chain and eventually work their way up to humans through consumption. According to Katie Hunt at CNN, a recent study showed that each week, humans ingest an average of five grams of plastic. Lucy Gilliam, co-founder of eXXpedition, said that microplastics “act like little sponges” as they absorb dangerous persistent organic compounds that can pose serious threats to humans if ingested. A Science Reports study showed that microplastics contaminate our foods throughout the production and packaging processes. The Medical University of Vienna did a study that concluded that it is possible for microplastics to enter the human body. In fact, a study found microplastics in human feces which can be extremely dangerous for patients with gastrointestinal diseases or other issues with their digestive organs. New research has found that, for years, Americans have been ingesting microplastics through bottled beverages, food, and even air. On average, a single American consumes between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastics each year. A person who drinks bottled beverages consumed about a total of 90,000 more plastic particles. While the long term effects of ingesting microplastics is still a mystery, studies have shown that microplastics are small enough to penetrate tissues in the human body and trigger immune reactions. Most consumers are unaware that microbeads, small spheres of plastic commonly found in body scrubs and toothpaste, are a type of microplastic that end up in the ocean after traveling through sewage systems. Maybe edit out… According to a recent news report, “Accumulation of microplastics and associated contaminants in marine fish, may pose adverse impacts to human health via seafood consumption.” According to a new review from Nanotechnology Weekly, recently, the chronic and dangerous exposure to airborne microplastics are posing serious threats, such as cancer, to workers in plastic-related industries. Here might be a good place to add a solution: Raising awareness. Ex para…

One possible solution to reducing plastic is simply raising global awareness of microplastics and human health. If people are informed of the potential dangers, then there will be incentive to take immediate action. Education of the facts could spur people into action through personal plastic reduction, advocacy, and government reformation .

However, Some people believe that there is not enough data to support the idea that microplastics pose a great threat to human health, (while others argue that there is sufficient evidence that proves otherwise.) Briony Harris, a senior writing for the World Economic Forum, wrote, “What was once a miracle product has become public enemy number one … Plastic’s success is largely due to the fact that it is cheap and light … And this success has led to the generation of a vast quantity of plastic waste over the past 60 years.” An anthropogenic contaminants scientist at the National Oceanography Center, Alice Horton stated, ‘To date there is no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless. It is therefore essential to understand how and where exposure to microplastics is most likely, and to understand any possible health risks as a result of this exposure.” According to a UN Frontieres report, ‘The scientific community is racing to understand the level of exposure and physiological impacts of microplastic contaminants on various organisms, as well as the risk to human health through consumption of contaminated food.’ Maria Neira, the director of the Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at WHO stated that ‘Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more. We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide.’ Since there is so little that scientists and researchers know about the potential dangers that microplastics could have on human health, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided that further research and assessment is required. After evaluating the microplastic situation, WHO determined that the only hazards that people should be concerned about include the physical properties, chemicals, and the microorganisms that can possibly attach to the microplastics. While some argue about the insufficient evidence pointing to the dangers of microplastics to human health, the fact remains that for the overall benefit for the planet and all life forms, humans must and should reduce the use and manufacturing of plastic.

Currently, there are practices in place in attempts to mitigate the microplastics crisis. However, based on research, those attempts, while helpful in some ways, are not as efficient as necessary. For example, some beauty product manufacturers have replaced… but there is no escaping the microbeads that have entered the.. . Although plastic items are being recycled more in recent years, items such as grocery bags, water bottles and straws are still prevalent in everyday life that often end up in oceans and waterways. (current attempted solutions to the microplastic crisis do not seem to be working. Solution one: While recently the microbeads are being replaced by more eco-friendly and natural ingredients in beauty products, there is no escaping the microbeads that have entered the ocean in the last 50 plus years. Solution two:) The plastic items that we see in everyday life, such as grocery bags, water bottles, and straws, have not been recycled in the past few decades. Even if they are recycled, they often get caught in the wind or in rivers and end up in the ocean.) The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that “… removing all plastics from the environment seems impossible due to widespread environmental pollution with plastic particles of all sizes. Although clean-up actions help to reduce pressure of plastic pollution on ecosystems, they are insufficient to control this pervasive problem. Conversely, availability of science-based solutions and technology lack integration and implementation across a number of sectors, and by stakeholders worldwide. Long-lasting solutions require multidisciplinary approaches and international cooperation, since plastic pollution affects neighboring countries and international waters.” To eliminate the microplastic crisis, it is crucial to employ several actions across the globe such as drastic plastic reduction, clean-up efforts and world-wide cooperation.

There are various solutions that may prove to be successful in removing microplastics from the earth’s oceans. Solution one: The process of wastewater treatment can remove up to 90% of microplastics from water. Solution two: An inventor from the Netherlands, Boyan Slat, and his team, The Ocean Cleanup, created a new invention to gather large and even microscopic plastics and remove them from the ocean. He hopes to send multiple devices into oceans around the world to eliminate microplastics. While Slat has gained much recognition for his invention, many researchers and environmental experts argue that the system may be effective now, but the only long term solution to the microplastic crisis is to eliminate plastic all together or take the necessary measures to prevent plastics from entering the ocean.

Humans must eliminate the production and use of plastic in the world in order to prevent microplastics from entering the ocean, but that would be extremely difficult to do, so the best preventative solution would be to significantly reduce the amount of plastics in their daily lives. Around the globe, various countries have begun placing laws and policies into effect in order to limit the production and use of different plastic products including plastic bags, cutlery, straws, and more. The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, banned plastic straws in all restaurants. Large fast-food chains including McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken support plastic-free straw policies. Researchers and scientists hope that by taking precautions to limit plastic use and production, the number of microplastics will not only lower in the oceans but also reduce the potential of microplastics affecting the food chain and human bodies. Scientists say that the best way to continue making change is by educating people of the negative effects of microplastics. WHO recommended that a reduction in plastic pollution would be beneficial in order to reduce human exposure. The government of Rwanda successfully illegalized the production, usage, and sale of nonbiodegradable plastics and set an example for other countries in Africa. Between 2006 and 2008, the country of Rwanda altered school curriculums to include lessons about the microplastic crisis. As of January 2020, China followed the lead of various other countries by setting new policies and bans on single use plastics in major cities that must take effect by the end of this year. The country of Pakistan banned single-use plastic bags with a fine of $31. According to Our World in Data, since China placed bans on plastic imports in 2007, it is estimated that by 2030, there will be about 110 million tons of misplaced plastics.microplastic research paper

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