Degrading our planet, one nanoparticle at a time
This year, India and the United Nations (UN) are jointly hosting the global World Environment Day celebrations, with ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ as the central theme. There is no reason to celebrate, really. Recently there was alarming news of how we are ingesting plastic nanoparticles in the food that makes it to our tables. It’s time to fix the problem but where do we even begin?
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At least 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute. In the ocean, it can take hundreds of years to degrade and break down into microparticles (smaller than 5mm). These are consumed by marine animals, finding their way into the human food chain.
The danger isn't merely in their toxicity, but its presence that impedes functioning. Most organisms can’t break down these particles. They build up over time and can even cross the blood-brain barrier, according to a recent study by Lund University researchers, at current rates of pollution, there will likely be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, according to a UNEP report. In December 2017, total of 194 UN countries signed a resolution to help eliminate marine litter and microplastics.