Microplastics Now Affecting Fresh Water & Irish Environment

Detailed research from the Irish EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) now shows that micro-plastics which are present in some cosmetics and household cleaning products are starting to harm the Irish environment. The research was carried out by researchers in the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The research report highlights a number of potential impacts of microplastics in Irish waters to both humans and other species.

The research report has identified the plastics manufacturing industry, landfills, urban wastewater treatment plants, domestic septic tanks and the sewage sludge or biosolids derived from water treatment plants as some of the main sources of microplastics in Ireland. Urban wastewater treatment plants were identified as one of the largest point sources of microplastics in the current study and they in turn were found to be receiving microplastics from a number of different sources.

The principle source of microplastics identified in the report are microbeads washed into the sewer or septic tanks from the use of personal care products and cleaning products. Another significant source are synthetic fibres from polyester and other clothing expelled into the environment in washing machine wastewater. Although some microplastics are discharged with the wastewater into receiving freshwater systems, most of the fibres become trapped in sewage sludge at treatment plants. The spreading of these sludges on agricultural land poses risks to terrestrial ecosystems and potentially further risks to freshwater systems. For households worried about microplastic and other micropolutants in their drinking water supplies, we recommend the installation of a quality point of use water filter or wholehouse water filtration system. Read more...


June 9, 2017


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