Experts from IIT Madras conduct review on microplastics pollution, find residential houses as major point source
The review is a maiden attempt to explore the activities and products within residential buildings which identified them as major contributors of microplastics.
A review by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has identified residential buildings as a prominent source of microplastic pollution. The study also identifies the transportation, transformation, and toxicity effects of microplastics in aquatic organisms and human beings.
This review was conducted by Angel Jessieleena, Kiruthika Eswari Velmaiel, Anju Anna John, and Prof. Indumathi M. Nambi from the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Division, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, and Sasikaladevi Rathinavelu from the Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras.
According to a press release, the authors of the review said that this is the first-of-its-kind attempt to explore the diverse activities and products within residential buildings and identify them as major contributors to the generation of microplastics.
The review pointed out that among the various sources contributing to the spread of microplastics in the environment, municipal wastewater stands out as a major source, as informed in the press release.
Prof. Indumathi M Nambi, who is one of the authors said, “More detailed research needs to be done with real-time environmental microplastics and microfibres to ascertain the myths and facts related to the risk associated with exposure to microplastics in humans.”
Prof Nambi stressed that the escalating issue of plastic pollution demands urgent attention and action. She said, “Current estimates suggest that between 4.88 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the ocean each year. Alarmingly, projections indicate that by 2050, the cumulative weight of plastics in our oceans could surpass the total biomass of fish.”
According to the review, laundry washing releases a significant quantity of microfibers into wastewater, while personal care products like shower gels, face cleansers, and toothpaste contain deliberate microplastic additives known as microbeads.
Besides, items such as face masks and synthetic indoor fabrics, including carpets, contribute to environmental and indoor pollution which poses potential harm to aquatic as well as terrestrial ecosystems, and human and pet health.
Suggestions by the review:
- Source reduction is a vital consideration to combat microplastic pollution.
- Personal care products should be replaced with biodegradable materials.
- Reduction in the use of use of plastic-based products such as scouring pads.
- Laundry machines should also have highly efficient filters.
(For more information, visit the official website.)