Alert for microplastics in freshwater. UNESCO prepares a report

Alert for microplastics in freshwater. UNESCO prepares a report

Microplastics are a new form of pollution that impacts the quality of fresh water around the world. Although the problem of microplastics in seas and oceans and its consequences on marine fauna is better known, little is known about its impact on rivers and lakes.

What are microplastics?

Micro plastics can be tiny, less than 5mm, but the problem they represent is not small at all. Although the water is successively treated in sewage treatment plants, these facilities are not normally designed to filter microplastics. An investigation carried out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warns that we are ingesting particles when drinking tap water and when ingesting food since they are affecting the food chain.

We find them in exfoliating creams, toothpaste. They can also be the result of processes that degrade other household items such as bags or fibers from synthetic laundry.

Microplastics are made primarily of polyethylene (PE), but can also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), diphenol, or nylon.

The report

It aims to describe the causes of the problem and propose possible solutions.

Michiel Roscam Abbing, author of the report, said in this regard:"Much more attention is being paid to plastic pollution in the oceans than in rivers and lakes, but the evidence does not justify it. The expectations are that our use of plastic and in particular the heavy fragmentation of large pieces of plastic will greatly increase the amount of microplastics in the water. The smaller the pieces, the greater the probability that they will enter the food chain and penetrate ecosystems. And once they get into the water they can no longer be eliminated or removed. "

The study is expected to be published in a few months, it is part of the "Emerging Contaminants in Water" Project carried out by UNESCO. This UNESCO research program is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Earlier this year, the Swedish environment minister asked Congress for a ban on microplastics in cosmetics.

With information from:

Video: Upstream: Microplastics in UK rivers (August 2021).