Microplastics is everywhere and according to a recent study, the island chain of the Maldives, known for its rich marine biodiversity, has the highest level of pollution with microplastics, both on its beaches and on the waters near the shore.
The study, led by marine scientists from the Flinders University in Australia, found the highest plastic pollution levels across 22 sites off the Naifaru coast, the most populous island there.
What Is Microplastics & Why It’s no Good?
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic, usually smaller than 5 mm in diameter, which are common marine debris in oceans and other waters.
This debris can be of any shape or size; still, if they’re smaller than 5 mm in diameter, they’re considered microplastics.
For the purposes of the study, the team collected sediment samples from 22 sites across the fore reef, reef flat, and beaches and analyzed them for the presence of plastic particles smaller than 5 mm.
Toby Patti, one of the lead researchers, explains that microplastics were the highest in the waters near Naifaru.
Namely, the microplastics found was 55-1127.5 microplastics/kg and greater than then ones previously found on a populated site in India, known as Tamil Nadu. Similar levels were found in other, both uninhabited and habited islands in the Maldives.
It’s a Major Problem Contaminating Marine Life & Humans
The scientists predict that this harmful plastic was probably brought through the oceans from other countries, particularly through the Indian Ocean as well as from the improper sewerage and wastewater systems of the Maldives.
The current management practices for waste can’t keep up with their growth of population and fast development.
Estimates note that around 8 million tons of plastic go into our oceans per year and affect our food chain and water supply, according to the IUCN.
Microplastics are particularly bad as it can introduce other pollutants to our foods.
Marine and freshwater contamination with microplastics is a global issue and it poses a major threat to marine and freshwater organisms, as well as to humans.