Microplastics in human blood: NGT seeks periodic monitoring of Environment Ministry's action plan

MoEFCC said that the health impact of emerging contaminants and long-term studies are required to establish the cause-effect relationship of microplastics on human health.
The National Green Tribunal in New Delhi.
The National Green Tribunal in New Delhi. File Photo

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has said, the action plan by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to deal with the menace of microplastics-- which have the potential to enter blood cells and adversely impact health--should have periodic monitoring mechanisms.

The tribunal comprising Judicial Member Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member Dr A. Senthil Vel, EM said the Ministry's plan, "Though ex-facie appears to be quite detailed but there is no timeline provided for the departments to proceed the action within a prescribed time frame."

"..we do not find a time-bound approach to bring out source-based and ambient standards for Microplastics and subsequently their regulation and enforcement," the green court said, directing departments concerned to take steps for execution of the plan within six months.

Secretary, MoEF&CC will monitor the progress of the Action Plan and resolve the inter-ministerial issues, if any, the tribunal said.

In its report, the ministry said, the health impact of emerging contaminants and long-term studies are required to establish the cause-effect relationship of microplastics on human health.

"Sources of generation of microplastics including industries, waste management, wastewater treatment, ocean activities etc. have been identified. However, the exact quantum of microplastics generated from the identified source has not been determined," it said.

The green court was taking up the issue following the media report of “Detecting microplastics in human blood”. The media report said that in the absence of enforcement of environmental norms with regard to the detection of microplastics in human blood, small particles of plastic enter human blood cells through food and have adverse health impacts on people.

Earlier, the tribunal had observed that strict compliance with environmental norms for protecting people from adverse health impacts due to the presence of microplastics in blood cells is necessary and it is also pertinent to have a study to be conducted on whether the existing policies of enforcement of environmental norms need to be re-visited so as to protect people from health hazards.

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