National Green Tribunal seeks Centre’s response on ban of microplastics

ur desire for a squeaky clean skin could be polluting the environment and even hampering our health by entering into the food chain with microbeads/microplastics now being identified as the “tiny’’ pollutants that we need to watch-out for.

In an application seeking a ban of these pollutants the National Green Tribunal earlier this week issued notices to the Union health, environment and water resources ministries seeking their comments on what has been done to identify and curb this growing threat.

Lawyer Sumeer Sodhi on whose behalf the case has been filed is also seeking that fines/penalties be imposed on defaulting companies causing environmental pollution by the use/ manufacture/ import/ sale of various cosmetic/personal care products containing microbeads/microplastics.

“There is no way of effectively removing microplastic contamination once it is in the environment. Causing severe water pollution, what adds to the problem is the unregulated production and usage of plastics in microbeads,” he said adding, there is an ongoing international campaign for ban of usage of plastic microbeads.

Explaining the rampant use and danger, Mr. Sodhi said: “There is growing evidence that the amount of microplastics in marine waters is increasing with unknown ecotoxicological consequences. It was also reported about the use of microbeads used as “scrubbers” in cosmetics products are being released into the natural environment and potentially made available to organisms. Ingestion of microplastics has been reported for a wide range of marine organisms including deposit and suspension feeders, crustaceans, fish, marine mammals, and seabirds.”

It is estimated that the per capita consumption of microplastic in America is approximately 2.4 mg per person causing 263 tonnes of microbeads waste emission per year. “The said consumption in India would be much higher owing to larger population,” the applicant said.

Research studies released in November 2015 showed presence of plastic microbeads in table salt, which is one of the most basic ingredients used in cooking. It was also observed that the microbeads found in toothpaste can get stuck in our gums and lead to cancer.

“Once these microbeads find their way into the water bodies, they just sit in the water and act as vehicles for other pollutants. “Once they get into the food chain, they carry synthetic chemical compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemical compounds are extremely dangerous and are cancer causing contaminants,” Mr. Sodhi said.

Studies show presence of microbeads in table salt, a basic ingredient in cooking

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