Microplastics and health risks

Alok Acharja

People are most familiar with plastic products in today’s society. Overall, it is very well received by all types of people.. Just as much as we feel comfortable using polythene! The very small particles of plastic that are entering our bodies in various ways, especially through food, cause harm to the body. Although the use of plastics is increasingly available and popular in the country, plastic waste is becoming a growing risk for us. Does everyone know or understand the fact that people use plastic and people eat plastic without knowing it?  Moreover, in some cases, the risk is exacerbated by the spread of small particles. The products we are using from the market are face wash, toothpaste, plastic bags, straws, small bottles, facial scrubs, and similar small products which are threatening the environment. Microplastics made from plastics are now a cause for concern.  Earlier, a study conducted by the Department of Environment and Science at Jahangirnagar University found small plastic particles in 15 species of native fish. The presence of plastic particles in the digestive tract of marine fish was also found. After reviewing 24 research reports on plastic waste, a report published in the Journal of Science of the Total Environment in the previous year said that tiny particles of plastic were entering the bodies of many animals, including fish. It is entering the human body through the food cycle. In addition, the presence of microplastics harmful to the human body has been found in the salt produced in Bangladesh.

A study titled ‘Proliferation of Microplastics in Commercial Sea Salts from the World’s Longest Sea Beach of Bangladesh’ found that there are an average of 2,676 microplastics per kg of this salt. It is said that at the rate at which the people of the country consume salt, on average a person consumes about 13,088 microplastics every year.  At the 2nd UN Environment Conference in 2015, microplastics were mentioned as the second largest scientific problem in environmental pollution and environmental science research.

More horrible information about microplastics has come to light.  For the first time, researchers have found microplastics’ existence in human blood. According to the researchers, the test found the presence of these tiny plastic particles in the blood of about 80 percent of people.  According to the Guardian on March 24, scientists have found in research that particles can move in the human body and take up space in various organs.  However, it is not yet known what effect it will have on human health.  However, researchers have found evidence that microplastics damage human cells. The human body is at risk of serious diseases due to the entry of contaminated particles in various ways.  We are all responsible for this in one way or another.  As a result, everyone should have a role to play in protecting the environment from this.

Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic.  A piece of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size is considered microplastic. There is also nano plastic. It’s even smaller. We cannot see with our eyes normally. But the body is taking it!  Microplastics were first introduced by a marine biologist at Plymouth University. We are not usually aware of these particles and they are not even visible. These particles are entering the body with our daily food. Microplastic contamination is caused by our everyday products. It is not for  everyone to know or understand because this idea did not spread among us that way. According to scientists, when different types of plastic waste are thrown into the water, they break down photochemically and biologically into smaller particles. Then it goes into the stomach of the fish and from there to the human body. This process is still beyond the consciousness of marginalized people. These microplastics are extremely harmful to both the environment and human health. I am throwing a water bottle on the street after drinking. Then it goes to the drain.  From there to the river. After sitting on the bank of the river or sitting on the launch or boat, I am throwing them in the river. These bottles can be seen floating in the river.  From there many are collecting and selling it again and recycling it. The question is how much is being recycled. After all these uses we throw in the streets, drains, rivers, parks, and seas.  In a word, anywhere. Throwing here and there is our habit!  The process of burning them together is not noticeable.     

   No one is suffering so much.  Just think how many people are using small everyday plastic products every day and throwing them away again.  There is no one to clean up this mess. As a result, these wastes are going somewhere in the environment. It is known that the variability of microplastic hormones, inhibits the reproductive process, and causes respiratory problems, cancer, and also fatal damage.  Very few are going to recycle. And so the use of plastics is becoming a threat to the environment.  Some countries in the world have banned these tiny plastic particle products. Just as polythene is a threat to us. One of the major threats is the use of disposable plastics.  Again, burning plastic waste causes air pollution from invisible microplastic particles that have a detrimental effect on our lungs as well as our respiration.

 Oceans, rivers, and ponds are nowhere excluded from plastic pollution.  Microplastics have even reached Everest, the highest peak in the Himalayas. According to a study, 93,000-236,000 tons of microplastics are deposited in the bottom of different oceans of the world.  While we have come to realize that plastic is becoming a threat to our environment as well as our human body, its use is actually on the rise. Because for now we have become accustomed to it and no one understands the disadvantages.  We can’t give up everyday things if we want to, it’s not even possible.  Again, we have no choice. Its use has grown to such an extent that today we use one-time plastic for tea.  And I use a one-time plate-glass for a wedding or any occasion.  I use it again and throw it away. There is a lot of plastic in the stomachs of the dead animals of the sea which we are throwing at the chest of the sea at different times.  Only in the absence of awareness and recycling do these materials become a threat to the environment.

Microplastics are getting mixed into our soil. All in all, this microplastic contamination is now spreading everywhere. Yet a large portion of our daily use remains outside of recycling, posing a threat to mankind.  Who will recycle when we throw plastic in the river? Every day many of us go to the market empty-handed and come back to buy something plastic. Then when the need arises, we throw it around.  There is no time to think about how much damage that thing can do to us or any responsibility towards the environment.  The only way to raise awareness about the environmental and human hazards posed by microplastics is to prevent the mixing of microplastics with soil, water, or air by bringing plastic under recycling in any way.

Author; Teacher and freelance writer, Email-sopnil.roy@gmail.com

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