Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

The Danube is full of microplastics

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.

50 particles in 1 m3 of water – that sums up the results of the two measurements taken in the Danube, which is quite shocking because it is by far the highest value obtained in any measurement so far in Hungary.

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.

The picturesque Danube Bend at Visegrád Photo: Shutterstock

Hungarian water treatment plant in Vietnam

It was announced in 2010 that the Vietnamese government would like to build a water treatment plant in Central Vietnam. Hungary is famous for its water treatment technology so they decided on a Hungarian partner.

The Biopolus BioMakery in the Netherlands

The Trappist monks of Koningshoeven Abbey have been brewing beer since 1881, and in recent years, they have also been baking bread and making chocolate, honey and cheese. The water to be treated is the wastewater from these brewing and manufacturing activities, together with the municipal wastewater from the Abbey and the visiting centre.

Over two tonnes of golf balls collected from Monterey Bay

Specialists believe almost 30 kilograms of microplastics has eroded from such a quantity of golf balls into the water.

Algal blooms grow more severe in the great lakes of the world

Over the last three decades, summer algal blooms in all large fresh-water lakes around the world have grown more severe – this is the conclusion of a global study, the longest ever of its kind, conducted by researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science and NASA. 

The Pacific cleanup may succeed

The system created by a Dutch inventor called System 101, whose first trial run, conducted a year ago, had failed, has started collecting plastic waste on the Pacific again.

Hungarian innovation to filter pharmaceutical residues

Many studies worldwide have shown that the active compounds of medications are released into the environment with wastewater and can easily be reintroduced into the human food chain from there. Filtering these residues out is an increasingly acute concern, but, thankfully, the world of science has already responded to the problem.

Garbage from Asia has inundated an island in the middle of the Atlantic

Researchers from Canada and Africa have found a massive amount of plastic bottles, originating form Asia, mainly from China, on Inaccessible Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The bottles were probably discarded into the water and then washed up on the island from cargo ships passing the region.

Pharmaceutical residues in Hungarian waters

In Hungary, too, the active ingredients of various medications are discharged continuously into the environment with wastewater, so they can now be detected in surface and underground waters as well as in soils.

What can we do against pharmaceutical residues in our waters?

After being introduced into human and animal organisms, some pharmaceutical compounds are secreted via urine unchanged, and then, through wastewater, those compounds may reach surface waters that serve as drinking water supplies, representing a risk for both aquatic ecosystems and for the purity of drinking water.

Microplastics from an unexpected source

We’ve known for a long time that plastic food packaging, wearing car tyres and clothing made of synthetic fibres are all sources of microplastic pollution. However, a new study has identified a new source of pollution in our kitchens, or more precisely in our teacups.