A recent research on nano and microplastics in water and wastewater treatment process took place. The results highlight newer challenges posed by these particles. Dr. Judy Lee and Marie Enfrin from University of Surrey conducted the study. They belong to the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering. Dr. Ludovic Dumee from Deakin Institute for Frontier Materials was also a part of the team.
Water Treatment Processes Apparently not Effective
The study, published by Water Research, has found that water treatment processes aren’t as impactful as they seem. This is because, during the process, plastic breaks into many tiny pieces. And, large quantities of these particles in water clog up filtration units. To add on, these also cause wear and tear in the treatment system causing costs to increase and effectiveness to decrease.
While efforts have gone into studying microplastics pollution before, this study is significant. This is because it is the first time scientists studied interaction of microplastics with wastewater treatment.
Globally, from the 300 million tons of plastic produced annually, about 13 million tons seeps into water bodies. Scientists predict an accumulation of 250 million tons by 2025-end. It is worth noting here that these are neither biodegradable, nor do they weather and age. Consequently, the accumulation causes serious concerns for aquatic life. It is because, living organisms that sometimes travel in these water and water treatment plants ingest nano and microplastics. But, it is noteworthy here that the damage is not limited to animals such as fishes and birds. As per a recent World Health Organization assessment, these particles are also present in tap water. These particles pose a serious risk to human beings.
The research brings to fore challenges faced in detecting these particles in the water and water treatment systems. As a result, it will help understand effective measures to keep up with safety standards. Likewise, it will also help in understanding how to reduce environmental damage. Thus, this will lead to formulation of new and better strategies.