‘Microplastic’: Fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm in length which are primarily harmful to the ocean and aquatic life.
When plastic bags or bottles are discarded, they degrade into small pieces that can creep into every part of nature while also harming human tissues. For example, when we wash synthetic fibers like polyester or liva, they shed parts and flow back into our local water bodies. Microplastics have also been found in places like the Arctic and the deepest parts of the oceans.
The market today is flooded with bright, shiny toys and soft clothes for babies. But how is this related to microplastics in their feces? Most products today like sipper cups, lunch boxes, baby bottles and wiping napkins are made of a substance called PET or polyethylene terephthalate. PET is taken from natural gas and crude oil. It is also another version of the polyester fabric which is added to rayon, cotton and wool to retain their ‘newness’. The synthetic form of the fiber can be converted to a molten liquid and made into any shape. While this type of plastic can be recycled, in reality, the percentage that is recycled is negligible.
When babies put these in their mouth or play, they ingest microplastics that these products shed. As a result, they are exposed to more microplastics as compared to adults according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.