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The Invisible Killer in the Environment: the Pervasive Microplastics

The Invisible Killer in the Environment: the Pervasive Microplastics

Over the years, the plastic products we abandon have piled up in mountains and oceans. Created by the usage of these plastic products, our temporary convenience causes irreparable damage to the natural environment and invades our daily and pure life, causing harm beyond imagination.

Too tiny to see, but it doesn't mean they don't exist: What are "Microplastics"?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "Microplastics" mean tiny plastics smaller than 5mm, and they can be divided into two categories by different origins:

  • Primary microplastics: the tiny plastic particles produced for commercial products, such as cleaning supplies.
  • Secondary microplastics: from essential plastic commodities (like bags, bottles, and straws), gradually brittle and shattered under sunlight, then finally becoming small plastic particles that are difficult to clean out.

After those microplastics enter the water cycle, some sink deeply into the ocean and become a burden; some drift ashore with the surf, creating a strange picture of the beach, and come back to us by the wind and rain.

The Invisible Killer in the Environment: the Pervasive Microplastics

Have you eaten microplastics today? Microplastics from the water cycle

Plastics can be disintegrated, but they won't disappear. Thus, the number of microplastics in nature is still rising. Nowadays, there are 21 million kilograms of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean, equivalent to the total weight of half population on Earth! These plastic particles increasingly gather organic pollution in the water, such as heavy metals and plasticizers, then become highly concentrated toxic microplastics and pollute water resources.

Besides water pollution, poisonous microplastics have even become a part of the food chain. Those contaminated plastic particles are first devoured and absorbed by marine life. Then this marine life is caught by fishermen and finally eaten by human beings. According to the statistics, each person will take about 5g of microplastics every week, equivalent to the plastic amount of a credit card. Up to now, "whether microplastics will cause negative impacts on humans or not" is still an open question. However, those hazardous substances attached to microplastics are undoubtedly harmful to human health.

The Invisible Killer in the Environment: the Pervasive Microplastics

Let's save the Earth from plastic catastrophe!

The Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan started an investigation on tap water, seawater, and sand beach at the end of 2017. Unfortunately, the result revealed that microplastics exist in 66% of raw water and 44% of drinking water. Moreover, the shellfish that people love to eat, including oysters, scallops, and clams, have also been found to contain microplastics. These facts show that plastic waste reduction is an emergency for human life.

Even though the current plastic pollution is hard to eliminate immediately, we can still change some of our habits step by step! For example, stop using single-use products, choose plant fiber products, and implement waste sorting and recycling. Those actions can create a win-win situation for nature and humans in this war against plastic!

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