How are microplastics harmful?

Microplastics can carry a range of contaminants such as trace metals and some potentially harmful organic chemicals. These chemicals can leach from the plastic surface once in the body, increasing the potential for toxic effects. Microplastics can have carcinogenic properties, meaning they potentially cause cancer.

How does microplastics affect the environment?

What are the environmental impacts of microplastics? Once released or broken away from their original plastic product, microplastics can travel through waterways and end up in the ecosystems that serve as homes to a range of marine life, including algae, zooplankton, fish, crabs, sea turtles, and birds.

What are microplastics and why are they a problem?

Plastic does not biodegrade, but breaks down into ever smaller pieces, resulting in microplastics. Smaller than 5mm in dimension, much of the hundreds of millions of tons of plastic waste in our oceans is made up of microplastics.

How are microplastics formed?

Primary and secondary microplastics Secondary microplastics form from the breakdown of larger plastics; this typically happens when larger plastics undergo weathering, through exposure to, for example, wave action, wind abrasion, and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.

How is marine life affected by plastic?

Fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning. Plastic waste kills up to a million seabirds a year. As with sea turtles, when seabirds ingest plastic, it takes up room in their stomachs, sometimes causing starvation.

How is plastic harmful to marine life?

The most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey, and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris.

How microplastics affect the soil?

Based on these results, microplastics can alter the water cycle in soils, exacerbate soil water shortages, and affect the migration of pollutants into deep soil layers along cracks (Rillig et al., 2017a). However, whether the impacts on the soil is positive or negative still requires more in-depth research.

What is the effect of microplastics in agricultural soil?

Microplastics can interact with soil fauna, affecting their health and soil functions. Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources, and also the ecosystem.

What is microplastic contamination?

Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.”

Why is plastic and Microplastic pollution such a concern?

Several chemicals used in the production of plastic materials are known to be carcinogenic and to interfere with the body’s endocrine system, causing developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders in both humans and wildlife.

What is Microplastic made of?

Primary microplastics They are little plastic spheres used in face washes, cosmetics, and toothpastes to exfoliate or scrub. They are usually made out of polyethylene (or polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or nylon), so look out for these words when you buy products at the drugstore.

What is the source of microplastics?

Seven major sources of primary microplastics are identified and evaluated in this report: Tyres, Synthetic Textiles, Marine Coatings, Road Markings, Personal Care Products, Plastic Pellets and City Dust.