Microplastics – The Truth

There’s plastic in your drinking water, but how did it get there? This blog is a simplified guide to what microplastics are and why they are a problem.

Firstly what are microplastics?

To be put simply, they are pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm / half a centimetre in size.

Screen Shot 2020-06-02 at 2.54.33 pm
Credit: Insta @micromahalo

Where do they come from?

Unfortunately, there is more than one source that pollutes and creates microplastics. One culprit is litter, the rubbish is blown into the ocean by strong wind gusts. A combination of the oceans swells and the UV rays from the sun cause pieces of plastic to break away and eventually get smaller and smaller. Another source is from tyres. As cars drive along the road, the bitumen grinds the tyres which cause shards of the tyre to breakaway. A surprising contributor of microplastics can be found in personal care products such as kinds of toothpaste with micro-beads or face exfoliants with micro-beads.

How do they make it into the water systems?

Rubbish & Tyres: Carried through the air from wind or pushed into stormwater drains from rainfall.
Personal Care Products: Products that contain the microbeads are washed down household drains. Now all household water is treated post household use. However, since the particles are so small, the treatment facilities are not able to filter them out and thus being flushed straight into water bodies.

Here is a great diagram explaining how microplastics make it into our ecosystem.

Screen Shot 2020-06-02 at 2.44.15 pm
Source: WHO

How are we ingesting microplastics?

We’ll here is a bit of bad news- you’re ingesting microplastic in everything you eat and drink. Oh, and did we forget breathing?? You’re literally breathing in microplastics as you read this ( well maybe not ). As upsetting as it is scientists predict that plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fish eat the micro-plastic and we eat the fish. So what does this mean for our health?

Does this affect human health?

In short – possibly. We just don’t know. One side of the coin, microplastics come into our bodies from one end and leave out of the other. The flip side of that coin is our body absorbs cancer-causing chemicals, and we’re all doomed. As is it stands right now in June of 2020, the world health Organisation has found that there is no evidence of health concerns from microplastics in drinking water. You can read that article here. Further studies are required to determine the health consequences.

What can we do?

There are a couple of things we can do to help reduce microplastics pollution. Firstly investigate into your local government waste/stormwater treatment process and ask what is being done about the filtration and their management systems of microplastics. Secondly is recycle more. Currently, it is deemed that Australia only recycles 9% of total plastic produced. Lastly, it is vital to support the businesses that are using recycled products, like SevenC’s swim shorts. The more people support a business like ours lowers the costs of materials which can transpire into savings for you.