Microplastics polluting natural bodies of water – which are present in increasing quantities around the world – present a major environmental, food safety and health hazard. Among the rivers in Hungary that have been tested so far, the most were found in the Danube: 50 particles per cubic metre.
WESSLING Hungary Ltd. began the Tiny Plastic Mystery project in spring 2018, in order to determine the level of microplastic pollution in the Danube and its tributaries. Earlier samples have already shown that, similar to other European locations, microplastic pollution can be assumed to be present in the surface waters of Hungary, too.
Along the River Tisza, at Dombrád, WESSLING’s measurements showed that the number of plastic pieces over 300 µm in size was 4.9 per cubic metre of water, while the sample from the Tisza Lake had 23.1 particles/m3. Most of the pieces of plastic found were made of the widely used varieties polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.
With the assistance of the Central Danube Valley Water Management Directorate, the experts detected 45 particles of plastic in 1 m3 of water on average north of Megyeri Bridge, while the count came to 55 particles at the southern sampling location, by the Csepel Free Port. This may be related to the high population density of cities: the waste washed in by precipitation and wastewater treatment plants may also be significant sources of microplastics.
As regards to the material of the tiny plastic particles detected in the Danube, similar to earlier measurements in Hungary, the majority of the particles were made of the polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene used in consumer items and packaging.
Scientists have studied the cetaceans washed ashore over the last twenty years. The saddest case was that of a 5.3 metre young sperm whale found on the island of Mykonos: it had swallowed 135 pieces of plastic weighing 3.2 kg in total.
Environmentalists removed more than 40 tonnes of plastic waste from the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, says a CNN news report.
The patches of plastic that look like used chewing gum are not only indications of the amount of waste accumulating in the oceans, they also represent a risk for the organisms that live and feed on the rocks.
More than two billion people worldwide have no access to safely managed clean drinking water, while more than four billion people do not have adequate sanitation services, according to a report announced in Geneva by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
On the 15th of June, 633 divers put on their diving suits and oxygen tanks and dove underwater by the shore of Deerfield Beach in Florida – to pick up litter.
Although the Mediterranean Sea represents less than 1% of the global ocean area, it contains 7% of the total quantity of microplastics. More than half a million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the sea every year, equivalent to 33,800 half-litre PET bottles thrown away every minute – a report published by the WWF on June 8, World Oceans Day, revealed.
In addition to climate change and global warming, the continuous production of inconceivable amounts of waste is also endangering our environment, and most of that waste consists of single-use plastics.
Dead zone areas in the region are not new phenomena, but in 2019, the area affected by hypoxia, a condition of low oxygen that can no longer support any form of life has grown much larger than expected, and the cause is likely to be human activities.
An unexpected problem associated with the pollution of lakes came into focus last January, when a highly polluted lake in India caught fire because of the massive quantities of waste in it – and according to locals, it was not first time, either.
The severe pollution of waters is an increasingly alarming problem, with many places around the world having no access to clean drinking water, which may have tragic consequences. In 2018, the Chinese artist Brother Nut put on a special exhibition to bring attention to the damage caused by water pollution.