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Microplastics

By Andrew Hwang and Evan Lee

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Imagine, after a year of eating shrimp and crab legs, you found approximately 10,000 microscopic plastic beads in your gut. Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that can be found in our food and even the most isolated areas of land and water.

 

Now, they are present in the air we breathe due to increased industrialization in numerous areas. Although they are not fully understood, microplastics present a clear danger to the world that must be prevented before the amount becomes too overwhelming to solve. 

 

To fully realize the effects of microplastic, we must first understand where and how these small particles form. Plastics are created from natural petroleum-derived materials that go through a multitude of processes to come together as one solid material.

 

When these plastics are moved to landfills and other environments, they become susceptible to UV rays, winds, and other natural phenomena. As plastic is exposed to these forces, it breaks down to what we know as microplastics. By spreading through the world through natural causes like wind, these microplastics reach a wide scope of locations, the most polluted being bodies of water. 

Marine

 

Imagine, after a year of eating shrimp and crab legs, you found approximately 10,000 microscopic plastic beads in your gut. Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that can be found in our food and even the most isolated areas of land and water.

 

Now, they are present in the air we breathe due to increased industrialization in numerous areas. Although they are not fully understood, microplastics present a clear danger to the world that must be prevented before the amount becomes too overwhelming to solve. 

 

To fully realize the effects of microplastic, we must first understand where and how these small particles form. Plastics are created from natural petroleum-derived materials that go through a multitude of processes to come together as one solid material.

 

When these plastics are moved to landfills and other environments, they become susceptible to UV rays, winds, and other natural phenomena. As plastic is exposed to these forces, it breaks down to what we know as microplastics. By spreading through the world through natural causes like wind, these microplastics reach a wide scope of locations, the most polluted being bodies of water. 

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Air

Additionally, microplastics can quickly spread through the air and build up in the environment, making it challenging to find these little particles. Recently, an aircraft-based study has discovered that microplastics exist up to 3.5 kilometers up in the air.

 

Although there are no known consequences of microplastics in the air, the exponential increase of airborne particles is expected to massively influence Earth’s climate, so much so that plastics will be comparable to other air-pollution substances, such as fossil fuels. Plastic consumption has quadrupled over the past 30 years and shows no sign of slowing down. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, microplastics are scary due to their mysterious nature and our lack of information on them. Plastic has been building up ever since the 1950s, and the scarcity of extensive research on long-term consequences proves that humanity has much more to learn about this issue.

 

However, we can help fight back against these micro-threats by reducing the amount of plastic we use, using reusable necessities, and recycling everyday items, so our world can stay healthy. If we wait until we notice the issue, there will be dire problems with possibly no solutions in sight. 

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