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The Giant Problem in the Micro Dimension: Microplastics

Updated: Jan 7

Writer: Adar Özalkak


Plastic pollution has been an accelerating problem around the world for the last thirty years. It causes serious damage to ecosystems with the chemicals it contains in ecosystems or by directly attaching animals or plants. Plastic waste can reach gigantic sizes as well as micro sizes. We name these minor plastics microplastics, which will be the topic of this article.


Microplastics are extremely small polymers with dimensions between 1 μm and 5 mm. They are divided into two groups, which are primary microplastics and secondary microplastics. Primary microplastics are plastics that are produced directly as small as 5 mm (1). An example of primary cosmetics is shimmer, which is widely used in the cosmetic industry. Secondary microplastics, on the other hand, are formed when microplastics, out of the range to be microplastics, are broken down into small pieces in nature as a result of biological and chemical factors.


Microplastics mixed with oceans and seas create microplastic pollution in water resources. As a result of this pollution, microplastics accumulate in the stomachs of many living things, especially mollusks, mistaking these plastics for food and eating them. This cycle goes towards the top of the food chain. According to studies, 48% of fish microplastics accumulate in the fish body, that is, about one out of every two fish accumulate microplastics in their stomach. With land creatures that eat fish, microplastics spread to all ecosystems and eventually pass into the soil. This is a chain loop that can reach the sea in microplastics thrown into the soil. These microplastics in the soil can reach agricultural products and reach human blood. In addition, the agricultural product that contains the most microplastics contains an average of 195,500 pieces of microplastics per gram of apple.(3).


In the previous paragraph, I mentioned that microplastics are found in human blood, but what are the harms of microplastics to human health? According to studies, it has been observed that microplastics cause serious diseases such as cancer and obesity. In addition to these diseases, there are other effects such as miscarriage at birth.


Due to the effects of microplastics on humans and nature, people do not know what to do in this situation. The solution to this situation is actually quite obvious: decrease plastic consumption and increase plastic recycling. One of the most obvious ways to reduce plastic consumption is to reduce the use of plastic bags, and we can reduce the consumption of plastic, such as not using plastic bottles. In order to increase the recycling of plastic, it is necessary to throw plastic waste into recycling bins and pay attention to recycling. Besides, in order to reduce plastic consumption, it is necessary to raise awareness among the public and convey the harmful effects of plastic pollution to everyone. (2).


As a result, microplastics are seen as seemingly insignificant plastic parts. Microplastics are present in almost every living thing, and although it has not yet affected human health, if plastic pollution is not reduced in the future, it will have serious consequences. In order to prevent these consequences, plastic pollution must be reduced. If people reduce plastic consumption and increase recycling, the number of plastic waste will decrease. As a result, the amount of plastic accumulating in nature is reduced, so microplastic pollution is largely prevented.




References

  1. panelMeralYurtseveraEnvelopeUlaşYurtseverbPersonEnvelope, A. links open overlay, MeralYurtseveraEnvelope, a, UlaşYurtseverbPersonEnvelope, b, AbstractScientists are on the lookout for a practical model that can serve as a standard for sorting out, Wright, S. L., Cauwenberghe, L. V., Tang, J., Shim, W. J., Phuong, N. N., Napper, I. E., Miki, Y., Lusher, A. L., Isobe, A., Hahladakis, J. N., Guo, Y., Fendall, L. S., Eriksen, M., … Hidalgo-Ruz, V. (2018, October 18). Use of a convolutional neural network for the classification of Microbeads in urban wastewater. Chemosphere. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653518319398

  2. MAPFRE, yazar. (2022, June 7). Mikroplastik Nedir? i̇nsan Sağlığına Ne Gibi zararları bulunur? Mapfre Blog. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.mapfre.com.tr/blog/yasa/mikroplastik-nedir-zararlari-nelerdir/#:~:text=Di%C4%9Fer%20yandan%20d%C3%BCnyadaki%20okyanus%20ve,bu%20mikroplastikleri%20besin%20sanarak%20yiyor.

  3. Türkiye, G. (n.d.). Türkiye'Deki Deniz Canlılarında Mikroplastik Kirliliği. Greenpeace Akdeniz Türkiye. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.greenpeace.org/turkey/raporlar/turkiyedeki-deniz-canlilarinda-mikroplastik-kirliligi/

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