Opinion

More action needed on microplastics in environment

As the health and environment alert on microplastics grows, researchers with the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP) have called for a more action by governments and industry to curb microplastic pollution.

“We are finding more and more hotspot sites through our citizen science efforts that should be targeted for a ‘source to solution’ pathway,’’ said Dr Michelle Blewitt, AUSMAP Project Director, addressing the 1st Nano and Microplastics Australian Conference.

‘‘Two areas highlighted for action include outflows from the industrial sites surrounding the waterfowl rich wetlands in northern Adelaide and rubber crumb from soft-fall playgrounds where millions of pieces are polluting the environment.’’

‘‘Rubber crumb, originating from shredded tyres used as matting in play areas and sporting fields, has recently been identified to move substantially into the surrounding environment,’’ said Research Director Dr Scott Wilson. ‘‘Recent results from our research suggests that up to 9 million pieces are lost within 4-metres of playgrounds.  These clearly demonstrate these playgrounds as another microplastic source into the environment and that action on this issue is urgently needed nationally.’’

Read more: Microplastics flow into Gulf waters

“The conference was an important gathering for those working in the field, however, there is clearly the need for a more unified approach for managing and regulating the problem,’’ Blewitt said. “There was a clear message from the panel, that there is a need for the general public to be educated on these emerging contaminants, particularly when they are in their own backyard”.

Plastic pollution is one of the most critical environmental issues of our time,’’ said Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre which founded AUSMAP. “Each year, more and more plastic is contaminating the marine and human food chain, lasting many, many decades.  Shining a light on it; engaging the community; and working on solutions with government and business is essential to protect the environment and human health.’’

 

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