Most of us are aware that is pollution all around us – too many cars honking, too many factories burning fuels, too many air conditioning units functioning and so on. But there are other types of pollution that you might not even be aware of – Microplastics.
Microplastics are fragmented minuscule plastics that either come directly from the products we utilize in our day-to-day life or are the outcome of larger plastic objects being broken down. And as scary as it might sound, they are even present in the atmosphere and are most commonly found in the hydrophobic environment.
The irony is that these plastic nano particles are found in Antarctic ice cores, inside the marine food we eat, as well as in the fruits and vegetables we tend to relish in our daily life. As per a recent study, these particles are expelled from the ocean each year, and rather than settling down somewhere, they get mixed up in the very air that we breathe.
It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that microplastic pollution is probably a lot more hazardous as it carries heavy metals, chemicals that could expose a human to a range of health problems including oxidative stress, heart disease, and even poor fetal development. Unfortunately, because of its minuscule size, it is nearly impossible to filter it out completely. This waste, regardless of its minuscule magnitude, is detrimental to the environment, in every sense.
However, a serendipitous discovery by Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old student, who has shown tenacity towards science, has revealed tiny contaminated plastic particles can be extracted effectively from aquatic life. Labeled as one of the 10 young change makers in the world, this 18-year-old has produced a unique version of the magnetic potion known as ferrofluid (a liquid originally developed by NASA) to remove immiscible plastics from water in order to eliminate this issue on a larger scale.
Fionn is now creating a device based on this ferrofluid magnetic extraction mechanism. The idea behind the device is that it can be installed inside ships or within water pipes to ubiquitously extract the plastics. The final tenet is to build a systematic process to get potable water to drink and sustain life.
With time, it is ideas like these that will be needed to protect our world and ensure that we leave a healthy planet for our future generations!
This article is written and published in public interest and is no way binding nor is meant to defame the industry or individual.
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