Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Microplastics Found in Human and Dog Testicles: A Cause for Concern?

GS-3 Mains : Environment

Revision Notes

Study Findings:

  • A new study reveals the presence of microplastics in testicular tissue of both humans and dogs.
  • Humans are exposed to microplastics through various means: inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact.
  • Microplastics are linked to potential health risks like oxidative stress, DNA damage, and reproductive issues.

Plastic Pollution Crisis:

  • Plastic Overshoot Day (POD) in 2024 is estimated to be September 5th.
    • POD signifies the day when plastic waste generation outpaces our ability to manage it.
  • China, India, the US, and Japan are projected to contribute 51% of global plastic pollution in 2024 (EA Earth Action Report).
  • India is predicted to be the second-largest plastic polluter of water bodies after China.
  • A 2023 report by the Nordic Council of Ministers warns that without intervention, annual mismanaged plastic waste could reach 205 million tonnes by 2040 (nearly double 2019 levels).

Understanding Plastics and Microplastics:

  • “Plastic” comes from the Greek word “plastikos,” meaning “capable of being shaped.”
  • Plastics are synthetic or semi-synthetic materials with polymers as their main ingredient.
    • Polymers are long chains formed by linking smaller molecules (monomers).
  • Plastic’s defining characteristic is its plasticity – the ability to be permanently shaped.
  • Microplastics are plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters in diameter.
    • They are found everywhere – from deep oceans to mountain peaks.
    • Estimates suggest humans consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles annually.

Microplastics: A Global Threat

  • Microplastics are tiny plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters in diameter.
  • They enter the environment through various ways:
    • Direct disposal into oceans and waterways.
    • Runoff from land-based sources like littering.
    • Fragmentation of larger plastic debris.

Impacts on Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems:

  • Marine organisms ingest microplastics, leading to:
    • Physical harm and blockages in digestive systems.
    • Potential transfer of toxins up the food chain (bioaccumulation and biomagnification).
  • Microplastics disrupt:
    • Nutrient cycling.
    • Sediment stability.
    • Organism behavior.
  • They can create environments for harmful bacteria or invasive species, further disrupting ecosystems.
  • Microplastics are found globally, even in remote areas, highlighting the pervasiveness of plastic pollution.

Microplastics and Human Health:

  • Microplastics can contain harmful chemicals, including BPA (Bisphenol A).
  • BPA can leach into food and drinks, potentially affecting:
    • Liver function.
    • Insulin resistance.
    • Fetal development.
    • Reproductive system.
    • Brain function.

India’s Fight Against Plastic Pollution:

  • India has implemented various measures to tackle plastic waste:
    • Ban on single-use plastic items in many states.
    • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to hold manufacturers accountable for plastic waste management.
    • Plastic Waste Management Rules for recycling and waste-to-energy initiatives.
    • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022, focusing on EPR and banning specific items.
    • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for waste collection and disposal.
    • Plastic Parks for plastic waste recycling and processing.
    • Beach clean-up drives.
    • Participation in international agreements like MARPOL.
    • The India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon to find innovative solutions for plastic pollution.

Source : https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/waste/study-finds-pervasive-presence-of-microplastics-in-testicles-of-humans-canines-can-be-linked-with-low-sperm-count-96268

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