Waste pollution must be stopped - GulfToday

Waste pollution must be stopped

Plastic in Sea

A man collects usable items from a sea of waste material.

The report that humans eat and breathe in tens of thousands of microplastic particles every year is shocking, to say the least. New research has raised fresh questions over how plastic waste could directly impact our health.

Canadian scientists scrutinised hundreds of data sets on microplastic contamination and compared them to the typical dietary habits of Americans.

They found that an adult male could ingest up to 52,000 microplastic particles each year.

Taking into account the pollution we breathe in, that figure rose to 121,000 particles, equivalent to over 320 particles every day.

Microplastics, tiny plastic shards broken down from man-made products such as synthetic clothing, car tyres and contact lenses, are among the most widely seen materials on the planet. Several previous studies have shown how microplastics may enter the human food chain, including one last year that found them in nearly all major bottled water brands sampled.

The study coincided with the United Nations World Environment Day, the theme of which this year is air pollution.

An additional 90,000 particles could be ingested each year if an individual only drank bottled water, according to the study. This could alarm many who drink only mineral water from bottles.

A study by the peer-reviewed Public Library of Science (PLOS) published in 2015 estimated that the Mediterranean contains 1,000-3,000 tonnes of floating plastic, with an unknown quantity on the seabed.

Sperm whales wash up regularly on Italian beaches, their stomachs full of plastic.

However, all is not lost. In this respect seems to be some hope. A report says that off Italy’s coast, fishermen are also hauling in, along with their usual catch – cuttlefish, red mullet – plastic waste. But this time, they won’t throw the rubbish back. The trash instead is being collected, analysed and, where possible, recycled in an initially month-long experiment to try to provide a blueprint for cleaning up the sea.

Since it started, the fishermen have collected around a tonne of waste a week for a month, of which 60 per cent is plastic. Fishermen have also been talking about getting so much plastic in their nets that it stops them being able to catch fish.

In March European lawmakers approved a new law banning single-use plastic products in the EU from 2021.

A draft bill is also before the Italian parliament on the handling of existing waste.

Even the UAE has been taking action on the issue. In March, a high-level gathering of local and global government officials and representatives of international environmental agencies, non-profit organisations and private sector companies discussed ways and means to tackle marine pollution in Abu Dhabi and around the world.

The first meeting themed, “Cleaning Abu Dhabi’s Marine Environment” focused on advancing action to tackle the issue of marine litter including plastics, micro-plastics, discarded fishing gear, and other types of marine waste in the waters of Abu Dhabi.

A recent report said the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) would, among other things, tackle the growing issue of ‘white pollution’ that reflects the accumulation of single-use plastic waste found in wild habitats and desert camping areas.

One should make a fervent attempt to stem plastic and other forms of waste. After all, a clean environment means a healthy environment.

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