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Microplastics Found in 50 Percent of Freshwater Insects – Time to Completely Ban Microplastics?

by Countable | Updated on 10.7.18

What’s the story?

  • Research has revealed that microplastics – pieces of plastic debris under five millimeters – can be found in 1 of every 2 insects.
  • "Every year, between eight and twelve million tons of plastics are thought to be entering the world's oceans, but around four million tons of it passes along rivers," said Fred Windsor, a doctoral student at Cardiff University in Wales, and lead author of the study.
“In some cases, there can be over half a million plastic fragments per square meter of river bed, so that ingestion by insects is very likely.”
  • Windsor and his colleagues focused on three species of mayfly and caddis larvae (which have different feeding methods), and found that both species had ingested microplastics.
  • “In our study, we sampled insects upstream and downstream from sewage treatment works on” various rivers in Wales and “found plastics were surprisingly widespread."

Where do microplastics come from?

  • Many come from the gradual degradation of larger pieces of plastic waste, including car tires, ropes, and paint.
  • Many come from the “gradual degradation of larger pieces of plastic waste in the ocean” including car tires, ropes, and paint.

But they’re just bugs, right?

  • Once microplastics are incorporated into insects, they can be passed up the food chain to fish, birds, and the animals that feed on them.
  • “Problems could arise from the physical effects of microplastics, from their direct toxicity or from pollutants that they transport,” said the study’s co-author, ecologist Steve Ormerod, Co-Director of Cardiff University’s Water Research Institute.
“Plastics in insects mean that animals using them as prey could also be affected.”

What do you think?

In 2015, the Microbead-Free Waters Act was signed into law. However, the Act limits the ban to “rinse-off” cosmetic products, such as toothpaste and face wash. Given these recent findings, should the Act be expanded to include other personal-care and cleaning products? Take action above and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman


(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ZU_09)

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(103)
  • Mark
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Microplastic waste is just garbage that is hard to see. Ban their use in normal household and cosmetic products.

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  • Tooluser1
    Voted Maybe
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Are "microplastics" harming the insects? Do we know? Or are we banning something simply for existing? It's cool *sounding* to call for a "ban" and all. But how will that actually play out? A vast majority of consumer products contain or are made entirely of plastics. What *exactly* are we discussing banning and why? We need A LOT more information before we run out and "DO SOMETHING(tm)"

    Like (6)
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  • Kayla
    10/07/2018
    ···

    They should have been banned a long time ago.

    Like (2)
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  • DEGUp
    Voted No
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Absolutely nothing said here about the demonstrated effects of these micro plastics. I’m left to conclude this is hysteria.

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  • Esther
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Doesn’t anyone care about future generations and the environment?

    Like (17)
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  • Ivana
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Yes ban plastic and go back to glass!

    Like (1)
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  • Nathaniel
    Voted No
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Good idea but I bet it will be Immensely Unreasonable to enforce.

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  • Keith
    Voted Maybe
    10/09/2018
    ···

    Ban them completely? I’m not so sure. But what I am sure about is the saying, “You are what you eat.” If this much micro plastic is found in insects, follow The Lion King, and think about the circle of life here. Insect eaters eat these insects, so the insect eaters are ingesting this plastic. The things that eat the insect eaters ingest it. Eventually, we do to. Because we are at the end of a long chain of “you are what you eat.” If what we eat it full of junk, so are we.

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  • Shona
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Dear Representatives, the science is clear on micro plastics impact on the environment. It affects the planet, all lives, and humans. Let’s work together to ban single use plastics in order to greatly reduce our impact. Even the smallest bit of effort makes a difference and increase the health of the ocean, waterways, drinking water, and much more. The Starfish story: two friends are walking along a beach with hundreds of stranded starfish on the shore. Once in awhile, one picks up a starfish and throws it out to sea. After awhile, the other asks, “Why do that? What difference does it make?” The first picks up a starfish and says, “It made a difference to that one.” Thank you for your consideration.

    Like (13)
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  • Carol
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    It seems so obvious I just can't muster the energy for argument.

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  • John
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Absolutely!

    Like (11)
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  • burrkitty
    Voted Yes
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Should have been done already.

    Like (10)
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  • Kate
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    We’re not doing our due diligence in protecting citizens and the environment from the harmful effects of plastic pollution. Please take measures to eliminate single use plastics, micro plastics, and marine plastics and find innovative solutions to replace our dependence on petroleum based plastics.

    Like (7)
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  • Travis
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Ban microplastics now

    Like (5)
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  • Wanda
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Seems it’s too late!

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  • Mary
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Yes micro plastics are the worst!!

    Like (4)
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  • Dori
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    Anyone ever heard of the food chain, and understand what that means? Unfortunately we seem to have a Congress with very little to no concern for the People, or any people for that matter.

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  • Joshua
    Voted Yes
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Enough microplastics are generated by degradation of larger plastics. We shouldn't be deliberately manufacturing them unless they serve a truly essential function. It's time to ban microplastics in all cosmetic products, not just rinse off varieties.

    Like (3)
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  • Jorge
    Voted Yes
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Not just microplastics, but ordinary-size plastics that become micro with use. Will unregulated capitalism kill everybody? Looks like it.

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  • Tatiana
    Voted Yes
    10/08/2018
    ···

    Companies won’t change their practices unless they’re forced to. We need to reduce plastic consumption ESPECIALLY in major commercial spaces!!

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  • David
    Voted Yes
    10/06/2018
    ···

    This is bad. The EPA needs to be allowed to do its job, and be headed by an actual scientist, not a politician.

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  • Jann
    Voted Yes
    10/06/2018
    ···

    Wake up!

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  • Chase
    Voted Yes
    10/05/2018
    ···

    92% for the ban but are any of us actively doing anything to make it happen? Sadly, I am not...

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  • Melanie
    Voted Yes
    10/08/2018
    ···

    I have seen first hand the extent of plastics in the Pacific, and micro plastics have brought the same consequences to fresh water. We need to address this problem before the bioaccumulation becomes too great.

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