Microplastics: Tiny, Toxic and All Around Us

It's hard to try and cut back on plastic. It's useful, endlessly practical and found pretty much everywhere. Unfortunately it's not just there where we want it - it's also in our oceans, soils and even in the air around us, with unknown consequences for humans and the environment.

Author Sarah-Indra Jungblut:

Translation Sarah-Indra Jungblut, 06.11.18

Since plastic was invented back in the 1950s, humans have produced around 8.3 billion tons of the stuff. Huge numbers like that are hard to get your head around. It’s the same amount as 822,000 Eiffel towers (weighing 10,100 tons each) or 80 million blue whales (104.5 tons each).

We’re all aware that our oceans are dangerously full of plastic waste. Huge areas of it have turned into so-called “plastic islands”, patches of sludgy toxic mess that are as wide as several countries put together – and constantly growing. On land the situation’s not much better. Our soils and fresh water sources are full of plastic pieces and recent research has even shown that plastic particles are even in our tap water and the air that we breathe.

What are these miniscule plastic particles? Where do they come from and what do they mean for humans and the environment? Our latest Knowledge article: “Microplastic: Tiny, Toxic and All Around Us” takes a closer look.

But while all that sounds deeply depressing, there is of course another side to every story. Every one of us can do something to help improve the issue of plastic pollution – whether it’s reducing our personal plastic use or putting pressure on lawmakers and companies to go plastic-free: 7 Quick and Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption.

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Microplastics: Tiny, Toxic and All Around Us

Microscopic plastic particles are now found in our water, our soil and even in the air we breathe. Where do they come from, what do they do to us and, most importantly, what can we do about them?

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Microplastics are a threat to humans and the environment. One Swiss sailor has invented a boat that can fish plastic out of the sea before it breaks down into the dangerous particles.

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Engineers at Australia's Deakin University have come up with a way to combine 3D printing and solar power that turns plastic waste pollution into practical water pipes for crisis hit regions.