Environmentalists raise their concerns about the discovery of microplastic, accumulated in form of a pollution around the summit of highest mountain in Wales and term it as a warning sign to humans.
Tiny fragments of plastic have been discovered in the water of lake Llyn Glaslyn, which is a lake near the peak of Snowdon and this has sent environmentalists in a quandary. Wetland science expert Dr. Christian Dunn opines that such particles may have been collected there through rain.
To take stock of the situation, a swimmer (Laura Sanderson) went across the lake, covering the distance of 26km by swimming and collected water sample only to get those screened and would now tour all the leading national parks dotted across UK to gather more info. The average of plastic presence was just 3 pieces per litre but on reaching river’s estuary, it rises to 8 per litre. However, experts believe the actual picture is going to be far worse.
Associated with Bangor University, Dr Dunn expressed concern stating, “The results are scary when you think that this is at the top of a mountain and a very remote location," He expressed fear, “However a more detailed analysis would almost certainly find more plastic”.
Scientists define microplastics as pieces of plastic that are smaller than 5mm while nano-plasics are the ones which can be seen under a microscope and such hover in air and fall on earth when the rainfall occurs.
Besides the rainfall, particles can also be there because of waste (plastic bottles) scattered all over the peaks by hikers, who frequently visit the place in search of adventure.
Dr Dunn warns the people, “However we have to wake up to the problem of how much plastic we use on a day-to-day basis”. He underlined, “It’s a valuable resource, especially for health care, but there are so many situations where plastic is completely unnecessary."
Speaking from Snowdon side, Snowdonia National Park Authority termed littering- mainly plastic bottles and wrappers –to be a “real issue" and that there are constituted teams of volunteer wardens who pick up about 400 bagful of such waste off the mountain range on yearly basis.
In case of Laura, who is from Harlech, Gwynedd, she is all set to launch a UK wide expedition from, after withstanding the snow and icy water, just to advance her research and finding, where she would cover around a thousand kilometres.
From the month of May this year, she would swim through rivers, lakes and would visit coastlines of all 15 national parks, that include mountainous Cairngorms of Scotland to open plains of Dartmoor in Devon. Such an expedition is likely to take around an year to complete after which scientists would release their report on finding made during this.
Laura expressed shocked, “We were horrified when we were told the water we’d collected [in Snowdonia] had microplastics in it. So now we want to see just how widespread the problem is and look at waterways in all our national parks."
Interestingly, the research has found a great support from environmental organisation Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
Risk To Human Survival:
WHO declares that at present, such levels of microplastic presence, is not any major risk to our health but still, there is laid an emphasis upon further research. This is also because planned research about plastic presence in water has kicked off just in recent years and therefore, only a handful (and not comprehensive) report and finding is accessible at our desks. Further, studies were not done on standard parameters as researchers implemented different filters while testing for the presence of plastic particles and then, water was also sourced from different streams, lakes, and rivers and so forth.
From WHO, Dr. Bruce Gordon put this explanation “To say one source of water has 1000 microparticles per litre and another has only one, could simply be dependent on the filter size used. We’re basically at a point where the study methods were quite weak."
Whatever the case, Dr Gordon is content with the present research finding and terms it as “pretty reassuring” for humans. WHO gives assurance though, that big particles of plastic and even the small pieces just get excreted from our bodies and don’t get absorbed to cause any serious health issue.
Luckily, consider the kindness bestowed upon us by Almighty!!!
Measures To Be Taken:
Here, WHO advocates a comprehensive water treatment to be done in a managed way whereby fecal content and chemicals should be specially targeted during the cleaning process and then, 90% of microplastics should also be selected for removal. As such, WHO inculcates upon those supplying drinking water as well as those who regulate it, to focus upon “known risks” or risks that are identified.
Dr Gordon points out, “Two billion people drink water that is fecally contaminated," said Dr Gordon. “And that causes one million deaths a year. That has got to be the focus."
As such, plastic causing pollution is considered by WHO as a grave health issue which should be checked and also emphasizes reduction of plastic wherever it could be controlled and then, recycling processes should also be given a facelift.