Plastics are everywhere nowadays. This gives rise to a problem called microplastics. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic found in the environment of < 5 mm in diameter. These microplastics have been found in soil, fish, and air, which poses a threat to animal and human health. Dr Mark Browne, a researcher in UNSW Sydney, found microplastics present in dried blue mussel blood in a 2008 study. While large pieces of plastic are a severe issue, the problem not only lies with the plastic that is observable as evident from research from people like Dr Browne. Tiny pieces of degraded plastic, synthetic fibers and plastic beads, altogether called “microplastics” have been found from Florida to the Arctic.
The small size of the plastics make it very easy to be ingested by a wide array of animals. This is very dangerous as microplastics have been found to physically damage organs and leach hazardous materials that can harm the immune system, halt growth and reproduction. These microplastics have the potential to move up the ecosytem, from the animals that we eat to the soil that we grow our crops. This will eventually lead to affecting people directly.