IIT Madras study identifies residential building as major source of microplastic pollution

The IIT Madras study found that activities such as dish-washing, bathing and using toilets contribute to the production of microplastic pollution.

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The IIT Madras study has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. (Image: Official)The IIT Madras study has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. (Image: Official)

Divyansh | December 8, 2023 | 02:29 PM IST

NEW DELHI: An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras) team has published a study that identifies prominent and unnoticed sources of microplastics in residential buildings as a source of microplastic pollution.

The study was conducted by Indumathi M Nambi, Angel Jessieleena, Kiruthika Eswari Velmaiel, and Anju Anna John of the environmental and water resources engineering division of the civil engineering department and Sasikaladevi Rathinavelu from biotechnology department, IIT Madras. The study also identifies their transportation, transformation and toxicity effects in aquatic organisms and human beings.

The review has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The authors claimed that the review is the first-of-its-kind attempt to explore the diverse activities and products within residential buildings, collectively identifying them as significant contributors to generation of microplastics.

The review suggests that municipal wastewater stands are the main source of the microplastic pollution. Everyday household activities like washing dishes, doing laundry, taking showers, and using toilets contribute to the production of municipal wastewater.

Laundry washing releases a significant quantity of microfibers into wastewater, while personal care products like shower gels, face cleansers, and toothpaste contain deliberate microplastic additives known as microbeads.

Also Read | IIT Madras hosts Energy Summit 2023 on green hydrogen, carbon markets, energy efficiency

Elaborating on the need for such review, Indumathi M Nambi said, “More detailed research needs to be done with real time environmental microplastics and microfibres to ascertain the myths and facts related to the risk associated with exposure to microplastics in humans.”

She added that estimates suggest that between 4.88 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the ocean each year. “Alarmingly, projections indicate that by 2050, the cumulative weight of plastics in our oceans could surpass the total biomass of fish,” she added.

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