Remember my previous post "Are we drinking plastic ?"... In the post, I hardly touched plastic's threats to human health and how to keep ourselves safe from microplastics. So let's start...
I didn't want to extend the length of this post up to this much, but in the course of describing microplastics, I couldn't abridge the content as all these information is of high importance. So please have patience and read the full article. As I've mentioned in the previous post, a little is known about the fate and effects of microplastic, especially for the human health. But some recent studies have revealed, what effects does it have on other organisms. So lets at first analyze some of those studies, from which we can imagine how will we suffer.
First I am explaining the effects of nano-polystyrene (nano-PS) on the growth, mortality, neonate production, and malformations of the zooplankton Daphnia magna. The results were
- The body size of the exposed Daphnia was reduced.
- The reproduction was severely altered.
- The number s and body sizes of the neonates were lower.
Now consider another experiment in which if industrial high-density polyethylene (HDPE) particles ranging > 0–80 μm are ingested and taken up into the cells and tissue of the blue mussel ( Mytilus edulis ) was investigated. The effects of exposure and plastic ingestion were observed at the cellular and subcellular level. The results were
- HDPE particles were taken up into the stomach and transported into the digestive gland where they accumulated in the lysosomal system after 3 h of exposure.
- Major histological changes in uptake were observed
- Strong inflammatory response demonstrated by the formation of granulocytomas after 6 h.
- The lysosomal membrane was destabilized and the destabilization significantly increased with longer exposure times.
Hence it's clear that microplastics are taken up into the cells and cause significant effects on the tissue at the cellular level. Appart from this if inhaled or ingested, microplastics may accumulate in our body and exert toxic effects by inducing or enhancing an immune response. That's why we shouldn't treat plastic on human health as a micro issue.
As it is a major issue of concern we must try to explore the methods by which we can keep the potable water safe from these microfibers of plastic. When it comes to us, at the first place we would think that a wastewater treatment plant would be able to remove microplastics from sewage. Even some wastewater treatment plants claim to do the same. But according to one report of Water UK, “the water industry has no current experience or technologies to separate out microplastics, and treatment of microplastics by the water industry has never been explored.” Now we can understand why can't we trust those water treatment plants.
I have collected some measure we can take to filter the microplastic particles from the tap water. I am writing them below.
Though we can't filter these particles with the help of our ordinary water purifiers, we can use some special filters those could help in removing microplastics from tap water. These are
Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Filters:
Granular activated carbon is made up of organic materials that are high in carbon. In the absence of oxygen, heat is used to increase the surface area of the carbon. In this process the surface area is activated.this is why these filters are sometimes referred to as charcoal filters. The activated carbon is used for removing some chemicals that are dissolved in water passing through a filter containing GAC by adsorbing the chemical in the GAC.The treatment system requires proper installation and periodic maintenance. Eventually, the ability of the GAC to bind and remove chemicals is used up and the GAC needs to be changed. How often the GAC should be changed depends on contaminant levels and water use.
Reverse Osmosis filters and Ion Exchange:
This type of filter use reverse osmosis (RO) technology. Reverse osmosis is also used in desalination. It uses a semipermeable membrane to remove ions, molecules and larger particles from water by applying pressure to the solution when it is on one side of the membrane. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and the pure solvent is allowed to pass to the other side.