- July 24, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Context: The Ganga is heavily polluted with microplastics at Varanasi, Haridwar and Kanpur, Delhi-based non-profit Toxic Link claimed.
- Micro plastics are plastics that are less than 5 millimetres in size but are a major source of marine pollution.
- Microplastics are present in a variety of products, from cosmetics to synthetic clothing to plastic bags and bottles.
- Many of these products readily enter the environment in wastes.
- Microplastics consist of carbon and hydrogen atoms bound together in polymer
- Other chemicals, such as phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), are typically also present in microplastics, and many of these chemical additives leach out of the plastics after entering the environment
Primary and secondary microplastics
- Microplastics are divided into two types: primary and secondary.
- Primary microplastics enter the environment directly through any of various channels—for example, product use (e.g., personal care products being washed into wastewater systems from households), unintentional loss from spills during manufacturing or transport, or abrasion during washing (e.g., laundering of clothing made with synthetic textiles).
- Secondary microplastics form from the breakdown of larger plastics; this typically happens when larger plastics undergo weathering, through exposure to, for example, wave action, wind abrasion, and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
- Polyacetylene is used as a doping agent in the electronics industry.
- Polypropylene is also used in packaging, plastic sheets, fibre, fabrics, rope, etc.
- PIP is mainly used in footwear and baby bottle nipples.
- Polyamide, commonly known as nylon, is used as a natural fibre and as metal wires in clothing and industry.
- The density of population in the three cities also added to the problem because a large chunk of pollutants got directly discharged into the river by people living on the banks.
- They are non-degradable plastics that often entered the Ganga through industrial waste or packaging of religious offerings
- The cumulative downstream pollution as well as industrial and human activities
- Municipal and industrial discharges are responsible for microplastics pollution in the river water
- The discharge from tanneries and other industries like textile.
- The Toxic Link’s study found that sites at Varanasi showed the maximum load of microplastics in the water of the Ganga, as compared to the other two cities.
- AssiGhat in Varanasi.,Dohrighat in Kanpur are the highly polluted zones
- Pollution of all kinds increased as one travelled downstream from Haridwar to Varanasi. It indicates that
- The researchers tried to compare the microplastics concentration in Ganga water with similar studies on other rivers across the globe, like the Rhine in Europe, the Patapsco, Magothy, Rhode in North America and the Elqui, Maipo, Biobio, and Maule in South America.
- They found the Ganga microplastics pollution was much higher. This was in spite of a higher per capita consumption of plastic in the European countries, North and South America, as compared to India.
- Microplastics in river water, if ingested in humans or other organisms, can cause toxicity through various means. Not only are these microplastics toxic themselves, they also have a tendency to absorb various toxins present in water, including harmful chemicals.
- The study also shows that the river is acting as a carrier of plastics and microplastics and transporting significantly large quantities into the ocean.
- Microplastics and their impact on marine bodies and the environment is documented through various research studies.
- Microplastics could have a serious impact on human health considering their property to absorb toxic pollutants. Studies needed to be taken up to understand this in depth, the study added.
- The study also recommended the strengthening of implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Plastic Waste Management Rules since a lot of pollution in the Ganga was due to industrial waste.
- EPR put the onus of plastic waste management on the producers or the company’s manufacturing the products
- It also pushes the argument that rivers should be declared as ‘no plastic zones’.