What is microplastics?

Microplastics are understood as very small pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length, visible to the eye and causing negative impacts on the ocean, aquatic life as well as the environment.

Where do microplastics come from?

Microplastics are derived from plastic wastes released by humans into the environment, accordingly, microplastics can have 3 groups of origin:
Primary microplastics: Plastics are intentionally designed with very small sizes called microbeads, found in many health and beauty products such as toothpaste, washing powder, cosmetics,… or in air spray technology to clean rust, paint machinery, engines, boat hulls….
Secondary microplastics: Very small pieces of plastic come from the breakdown of larger plastic debris, caused by physical, biological and chemical agents.
Microplastics from other sources: Plastic pieces found in by-product waste, dust during the wear and tear of primary and secondary microplastics such as microplastics when washing clothes, plastic toys, and rubber microplastics rubber due to worn tire.

microplastic ocean pollution, from cloth, water bottle

Impact of microplastics on the environment?

With a compact size that is easy to spread, in a short time, microplastics have been ubiquitous, causing widespread microplastic pollution, seriously affecting the living environment. They get into the food chain by many ways as water, air and ground
Plankton species will eat microplastics, small fish will eat plankton and be contaminated with plastic, large fish will eat small fish and become infected with microplastics, and will eventually die. For the above two reasons, in recent years, the number of marine life has decreased significantly and markedly
Recently, people have also found microplastics in seafood dishes, in sea salt. Microplastics less than 1 mm in size are found in mussels, oysters and shellfish. Microplastics have been found in three out of four New Zealand fish species
Microplastics are also present in respiratory dust when people breathe in. If microplastics have a diameter of more than 10 micrometers, they are often retained by the mucous system of the respiratory tract and eliminated through sneezing, coughing, nasal sneezes, mucus sputum, etc. If microplastics are smaller in size, they will go deeper in the organs in the body and difficult to be eliminated.
Microplastics can also enter the human body through drinking bottled water or eating food contaminated with microplastics. Harmful chemicals are in microplastics that manufacturers intentionally add, such as fillers and stabilizers. The most common substances are:
– Bisphenol A (BPA): Manufacturers use in the production of polyvinyl chloride resins. Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor that causes damage to various tissues and organs, including the reproductive system, immune system, and neuroendocrine system. Recently, it has been shown that BPA can cause cancer and mutagenicity in animals.
– Phthalates: These make plastics more flexible, transparent, and durable and are present in many types of food packaging. Phthalates are not a single substance, it is a family with many different types. Some chemicals in the Phthalates family have been shown to be endocrine disruptors and harmful to human health.

microplastics food chain

How to prevent microplastic pollution?

Until now, although it has been shown that microplastics have an impact on marine organisms that increase their mortality, there is still no official study that can conclude that microplastics affect human health. However, with microplastic pollution spreading, “microplastics are present all over the ocean, microplastics are in the seafood we eat, microplastics are in the salt we use every day, even microplastics are in the air we breathe” as it is today. It is essential to join hands to protect the environment and reduce the amount of plastic waste released into the wild. To do that, it is necessary to minimize the use of plastic products; raise awareness of environmental protection, put garbage in the right place; replace plastic products with other environmentally friendly materials… to help future generations live in a cleaner green environment.

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