CHENNAI: A new study has found a high concentration of microplastics in groundwater in and around the Kodungaiyur dump yard. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Madras, says one of the major reasons for the problem is the rampant drilling of bore wells.
Researchers from Climate and Environmental Research Group (CERG) at the varsity studied drinking water samples collected within 10 km radius of the dump yard in Kodungaiyur, one of the largest in the city, maintained by the Corporation. They collected samples from 35 places around the dump yard and found surprisingly high concentration of microplastics.
Researchers say that in some samples, the concentration of microplastics was as high as 22 particles per 150 ml, while the acceptable levels are 2 particles per litre. “The numbers are a matter of grave concern,” says M Jayaprakash, professor of Applied Geology at the University of Madras. “It shows how polluted our groundwater has become.”
Microplastics are minute particles of plastic measuring less than 5mm. They are of grave health and environment concern. Earlier studies by Anna University found the presence of microplastics in water samples collected for reservoirs around Chennai.
Jayaprakash says microplastics absorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation — that can be transferred to animal tissues. The study says digging of bore wells has caused the leakage of plastics, accumulated in the dump yard, into water.
Cause of pollution
“We found that areas which have more bore wells have a higher concentration of microplastics. Contamination from the petrochemical factory also accounts for pollution,” said Jayaprakash.