It seems we’re all chewing over microplastics. All too literally, unfortunately. These plastic particles, less than five millimetres in diameter, are already everywhere – from the depths of the seas to the highest mountains, from the air we breathe to the water we drink.
There is a distinction between secondary microplastics, which arise from the weathering of larger plastic waste, and primary microplastics, which are specially manufactured plastics added to products such as cosmetics, cleaning agents and fertilisers in the form of microbeads, granules, fibres or even in liquid consistency. (Source: Greenpeace)
Heading out to sea
For some time now, microplastics have been repeatedly detected in seawater and drinking water. How do the particles get there? Plastic waste that is carelessly tossed into natural settings ends up in rivers and seas, but there is also waste in landfills that decomposes over time through abrasion, UV light, salt, bacteria and temperature fluctuations, before entering natural cycles. (Source: WWF)
Primary microplastics, which are often found in cosmetic products and cleaning agents, find their way into wastewater when we shower and clean. They then make their way into the sea via sewage treatment plants and rivers, where they are ingested by marine organisms and ultimately end up on our plate when we eat fish or seafood. (Source: Nürtinger Zeitung)