At Chennai’s National Institute of Ocean Technology, a team of scientists have recorded blue and green microplastic particles as well as fibers in marine worms. Once they are in the bodies of marine creatures, they cause internal damage. Besides toxins, microplastics threaten micro fauna like plankton (single celled tiny creatures which fish and whales feed on) which thrive in the oceans.
Studies show great concentrations of microplastic, in addition to chemical pollutants in tissues of fish at Keri as well as the Galgibaga beaches of Goa. The seas which are near Kerala, Chennai, Mumbai, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are actually the worst polluted in the entire earth. Religious as well as recreational pursuits and activities are majorly contributing to microplastic abundance on these beaches.
Microplastic was found in Kerala in all the sediment samples of Vembanad Lake. This is the largest lake in India. These indicate the extensive distribution in the lakes and water bodies. Vembanad Lake is an estuarine and freshwater system. This forms part of Vembanad wetland system. This has been recognized as a Ramsar site. One can imagine how this problem is threatening the environment. Fish and clams are major sources of protein for the locals, presence of microplastics could be a big threat as it contaminates the food web of the lake.
In Daman and Diu, microplastic particles could be seen in the stomachs of Longman’s Beaked Whales. The analysis of samples from a remotely placed coral island in the Indian Ocean also shows presence of macro, meso, as well as microplastic. A very recent study by the State University of New York (in Fredonia) says 90 percent bottled water in the market contains huge levels of microplastic. These are small and could be ingested. The University also analyzed 259 bottles of water that came from 19 different locations of 9 countries. One was Delhi in India. The report is of great importance as it proves microplastic finding its way into the human system. It is happening through drinking water together with sea food.
It is time we understood the situation. We need to wake up before it is late. The World Economic forum (WEF) predicts by 2050 there would be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Let us embark on a journey to a plastic-free world.
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