PANAJI: Microplastics, one of the carriers of pollution to the marine environment, have been found more on the beaches of Karnataka and Maharashtra as compared to Goa, according to a scientific study.
The microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment, resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.
During a study conducted on different beaches along the coast of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa, the researchers found significant variations in the distribution pattern of plastic contaminants on various locations in the three states.
They claimed to have found a high abundance of microplastics - like films, fibres, fragments and pellets - on the beaches of Maharashtra and Karanataka.
"However, comparatively fewer microplastic pellets were found along the coast of Goa," says the research paper of scientists of the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), one of the constituent laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The NIO scientists presented the paper, detailing the research on microplastics on the beaches in the three states, during the sixth International Conference on Ecotoxicology and Environmental Science held in New Delhi last month.
"During a comprehensive study on the identification and ecotoxicological impact of microplastics in the coastal Arabian Sea, we observed 5,095 pieces of plastic pollutants in total, ranging from 3 to 100 mm in size, on 10 beaches along the west coast of India during 2016-17," the scientists said in the research paper.
The microplastic pellets, generally of less than 3 mm in size, tend to accumulate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and easily get transported and enter the marine food chain, they said.
"The microplastic pellets of variable colours were abundant on all the beaches of Maharashtra while a moderate amount were observed along the Karnataka coast and the lowest abundance was found along the coast of Goa," said the paper.
The researchers said these microplastic pellets were made of polyethylene and polypropylene, and a few of them were unidentified polymers.
"Due to the long residence time of microplastics in the sea water and on beaches, specially in polluted marine environments, they tend to adsorb various pollutants, and may act as vector transferring toxic chemicals from the environment to the marine organisms," the paper said.
The researchers claimed that these findings may enhance the understanding about the deleterious impact of microplastics and associated POPs on the marine ecosystem.
This may provide crucial information on the complex chemico-biological interplay and give early warnings of the impending invisible threat, said the study, conducted by NIO's senior scientist Mahua Saha and her team comprising Dusmant Maharana, Chaynika Rathore and R A Sreepada.