In many ways, Nguyen Phan Bao Linh and Yu En Hsu seem like opposite sides of the same coin: both are international students enrolled in the Maxwell School’s No. 1-ranked master of public administration (M.P.A.) program, both are among the…
Proactive Measures Needed To Keep Mircroplastics Out Our Aquatic Systems
A recent World Health Organization report found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove microplastics in drinking water pose a risk to human health at current levels. The report states microplastics are “ubiquitous in the environment and have been detected in marine water, wastewater, fresh water, food, air and drinking-water, both bottled and tap.”
Researchers at Syracuse University weighed in.
Teng Zeng is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Syracuse University College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Prof. Zeng says:
“Water quality encompasses a wide range of issues, and indeed, we are primarily concerned with pathogens and chemical contaminants in the context of public water supplies. Microplastics may not steer us away from our current drinking water treatment practice; however, it is important to keep in mind that we have not been able to fully evaluate their potential environmental risks based on existing data, as already highlighted in the WHO report.
“We need to be proactive in preventing microplastics from entering our aquatic systems, just like what we do for other anthropogenic pollutants of public health concern.”
Laura Markley is a PhD student in the Civil & Engineering department at Syracuse University.
Prof. Markley says:
“Though the WHO report concludes that microplastics in drinking water may not pose a threat, there are various other routes of ingestion and exposure via air, fish, and even salt or beer, that people would be exposed to over their lifetime. The number of particles we ingest will likely increase as we continue to use plastic unsustainably and add to the growing number of microplastics in the environment, all of which pose different risks based on their polymer type or size.
“Since there are so many factors governing our exposure, it’s important we lower microplastic release where we can. WHO’s conclusions are based on current data, which is lacking in many aspects due to the infancy and complexities of the field. There have been no human health studies on microplastics, and as Teng mentioned, we know very little about the risks aside from what is extrapolated from other fields.”
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