Let’s start by knowing what exactly we are dealing with here, microplastics. Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment that are generally between the size of 1-5mm, so it is sort of a given that they cannot be seen via the naked eye.
They come from a variety of sources like cosmetic, clothing, coastal tourism industry, shipping industry etc. There are basically two kinds of microplastics, Primary and Secondary. Primary microplastics are the ones that come from the result of human use of certain material and secondary microplastics are the ones that come from the breakdown of bigger plastics like polythene bags.
Even though microplastics do not sound like much of a problem they generally become a problem when these tiny, invisible to the naked eye, particles seep in to the water bodies, and not just the local pools and ponds but oceans and seas and exist in the aquatic and marine eco systems.
As we all know by now, the plastics take their own sweet time to break down, the reason why they are so much more harmful than any other element is because the rate at which they break down is much slower than the others, so imagine if there were plastic particles inside of us, it would be really hard to determine when exactly they would actually break down and naturally pass through the digestive system.
Reasons why microplastics are harmful:
- The fact that they take days and weeks to break down are undoubtedly one of the reasons, as because these microplastics which have already seeped into the marine ecosystems have probably been incorporated into many organisms’ bodies through the various ways of ingestion and respiration. But this swallowed plastic takes 14 days to pass their system and thus within those 14 days if that organism is eaten by a bigger predator then the plastic automatically gets transferred to the body of that bigger predator which might not be such a good thing.
- Seeing the above point it is pretty obvious to where that point was leading, from small organisms to big predators from big predators to bigger fishes and finally from fishes to a species of mammals we all know very well, yes, humans
- Fish is the primary source of protein almost everywhere around the world, for animals and humans alike thus one fifth of the fish eating human population have been found with microplastics in their digestive tracts.
- Microplastics do more than just exist in the bodies of human beings, they have the ability to do some serious physical blockage or damage of feeding appendages or digestive tract and can also cause indigestion which will ultimately lead to problems in the digestive system.