Microplastics detected in human breast milk
14th Oct, 2022
Scientists have found microplastics in breast milk, raising concerns over potential health risks for infants.
- In general, babies and young children are more vulnerable to chemical and particle exposure.
- Presence of microplastics in breast milk is of great concern for the extremely vulnerable population of infant.
- Researchers have also stressed that the advantages of breastfeeding are much greater than the disadvantages caused by the presence of polluting microplastics.
Advice to pregnant women:
- Avoiding food and drink packaged in plastic, cosmetics and toothpastes containing microplastics, and clothes made of synthetic fabrics.
What are microplastics?
- They are defined as plastics less than five millimeters in diameter—smaller in diameter than the standard pearl used in jewelry. It can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.
- There are two categories of microplastics: primary and secondary.
- Primary Microplastics: They are tiny particles designed for commercial use and microfibers shed from clothing and other textiles. E.g. Microbeads found in personal care products, plastic pellets and plastic fibres.
- Secondary Microplastics: They are formed from the breakdown of larger plastics such as water bottles.
Chemicals in plastic products:
- The two most important substances to watch out for in plastics are bisphenol A (BPA), used in a variety of consumer products, and certain ‘phthalates’.
- BPA has been classified as an endocrine disruptor, which means that it has toxic effect on our ability to reproduce, they may damage fertility or the unborn child.
- Elimination of Single Use Plastic: In 2019, the Prime Minister of India pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, with an immediate ban in urban Delhi.
- Important Rules: Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 state that every local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing, and disposal of plastic waste.
- Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
- Un-Plastic Collective: Un-Plastic Collective (UPC) is a voluntary initiative launched by the UNEP-India, Confederation of Indian Industry and WWF-India.
- The Collective seeks to minimise externalities of plastics on the ecological and social health of our planet.