Pollution is something that we are accustomed to seeing around us. The problem is significant especially in mega cities like Karachi and Lahore.
If a recent study is to be believed, 83% of drinking water across the world is contaminated. Small microscopic chunks of plastic were found in drinking water from New York to New Delhi, according to Orb Media and a researcher from University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Microplastics (small microscopic fibres and fragments) were found in drinking water. So what are these microplastics and why should you be afraid of them?
Is it Dangerous?
Scientists don’t really know what it can do to us. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t cause for concern. Dr Sherri Mason, a microplastic expert at the State University of New York in Fredonia says,
We have enough data from looking at wildlife, and the impacts that it’s having on wildlife, to be concerned. If it’s impacting [wildlife], then how do we think that it’s not going to somehow impact us?
Microplastics can contain and absorb harmful chemicals. Research on wild animals shows that these chemicals can be released once the microplastics are inside their body.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that humans are also susceptible to them. However, the risk is ever present.
Where Does it Come From?
There are several sources of microplastics in the environment. It can come from:
- Synthetic fibres in the wash
- Tire dust
- Secondary microplastics (from mishandled plastic waste)
- Synthetic fibres in the air
It can come from fleece, acrylic and polyester clothing when washed or from tire dust with cars and trucks emitting 20 grams of dust for every 100 km driven. It can also come from dust emitted from road markings, house paint, from plastic bags, forks, straws etc thrown out into rivers, canals and streams.
Even simple abrasion with your arms or legs rubbing together (the cloth not your limbs) can cause microplastic fibres to break out in the air, similar to cats shedding their fur.
Bottled water (or mineral water, as we say it in Pakistan) may not be safe either. Some of the brands tested in the US also contained microplastics in them.
Can We Do Something About it?
Short answer is no. Current water treatment procedures can’t remove all of these fibres and no matter how good your water filter is, some of it will always make it into your drinking water.
Dr Anne Marie Mahon at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology says,
There is nowhere really where you can say these are being trapped 100%. In terms of fibres, the diameter is 10 microns across and it would be very unusual to find that level of filtration in our drinking water systems.
She added that even though the current study shows alarming results, more research will need to be conducted to find possible sources of contamination and ascertain its impact on our health.
For now, all you can do is rely on the water filter installed at your homes.
Via Orb Media