From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Microplastics pollution
Mains level : Not Much
Scientists have found microplastics — plastic pieces much smaller than a grain of rice — in freshly fallen Antarctic snow for the first time.
What are Microplastics?
- Microplastics are tiny bits of various types of plastic found in the environment.
- The name is used to differentiate them from “macroplastics” such as bottles and bags made of plastic.
- There is no universal agreement on the size of microplastics. It defines microplastic as less than 5mm in length.
- However, for the purposes of this study, since the authors were interested in measuring the quantities of plastic that can cross the membranes and diffuse into the body via the bloodstream.
- Hence they agreed on an upper limit on the size of the particles as 0.0007 millimetre.
Why in news?
- Researchers have found microplastics in the snow samples from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
Threats posed by Microplastics
- Microplastics has the potential to influence the climate by accelerating melting of ice.
- They limit growth, reproduction, and general biological functions in organisms, as well as humans.
Try this PYQ:
- Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into environment?
(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.
(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.
(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.
(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.
Post your answers here.
Back2Basics: Ross Ice Shelf
- Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica roughly the size of France.
- It is several hundred metres thick.
- The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 kilometres long, and between 15 and 50 metres (50 and 160 ft) high above the water surface.
- Ninety percent of the floating ice, however, is below the water surface.
- Most of Ross Ice Shelf is in the Ross Dependency claimed by New Zealand.
- It floats in, and covers, a large southern portion of the Ross Sea and the entire Roosevelt Island located in the east of the Ross Sea.