How Serious is the Microplastic Pollution Problem?

Do you really want to know?

Super super serious. Two peer-reviewed global studies published last week paint us a dismal picture...

First, ocean plastic pollution tends to get most of the attention these days, but researchers have discovered that the amount of synthetic plastic microfibres ending up on land is now greater than the amount ultimately polluting waerbodies. Most of these microplastics are coming from the washing of clothes. Large amounts go out into waterbodies, and then end up on land eventually in sludge from water treament plants, and are spread on land as part of the sludge management system.

Second, researchers estimated what plastic emissions from 173 countries would be by 2030 even if current government targets for plastic reduction are met, and the number they came up was about 53 million metric tons per year. Enormous! Especially considering the number was about 8 million in 2015.

Image: Microfibres up close (Debris Free Oceans)

So there is more and more microplastic pollution all around us and going into us, but we still don't really know what the long-term health effects of them on us will be.

All this points to what we have been calling for from the start: Reduction at the source. Make less plastic.

Our friend Katherine at Treehugger has done a fine job summarizing these two studies and discussing the implications, so feel free to check out her articles here:

Or you can go right to the source and read the full studies here:

Image: Microplastic fibres from synthetic textiles found in the deep sea (Natural History Museum)