MICROPLASTICS: DISCOVERY AND TYPES
Microplastics, as their name suggests, are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in diameter, almost the size of rice divided into two categories: Primary and Secondary.
Primary microplastics are designed for commercial use such as cosmetics, or even microfibers that are shed from various clothes and textiles. Secondary microplastics are particles that come as a result of the breakdown of larger plastics or macroplastics such as water bottles for example. This disintegration occurs due to long exposure to environmental factors, mainly from solar radiation and ocean waves.
Microplastics were first discovered in 1972 by biologist Edward Carpenter while he was studying algae in the sea.
Every time he pulled the net to the surface of the ocean, it came back filled with plastic. Edward then began cataloging the weight and number of particles he found in the oceans. He said that there were different types of small jagged pieces of plastic with a diameter of 5-6 millimeters including plastic needles which are the raw materials of plastic that are sold to a manufacturer for making toys or other plastic objects. At the time it was not well received by the scientific community, until 2004 when the term "microplastics" was coined by a study written by eight scientists describing the long-term accumulation of fragments just a few micrometers in diameter in oceans near pelagic areas and sedimentary habitats.
Current research is also beginning to show that the soil and air are already polluted with microplastics just like the oceans.
The problem of microplastics is the same as that of large plastics or macroplastics. They do not break down or break down into harmless molecules. In addition to this fact, we already know that plastics take hundreds and thousands of years to decompose in the environment and in the process they terribly contaminate our ecosystem irreversibly. Until recently, microplastics have been an overlooked topic in plastic pollution monitoring. Although a lot of data has been collected about them within the last decade, their topic has just started to become a trending topic regarding the impact and consequences caused by the uncontrolled use of plastic.