America’s Waterways Faced With Micro-Plastic Pollution Due To Discarded Contact Lenses

America’s Waterways Faced With Micro-Plastic Pollution Due To Discarded Contact Lenses

America’s Waterways Faced With Micro-Plastic Pollution Due To Discarded Contact Lenses

Said research shows that the current wastewater treatment facilities can not filter out the 1.8 to 3.3 billion contact lenses that are flushed down the toilet every year.

Not many people care about what happens after they flush their contact lenses down the toilet or toss them out in a sink basin?

"Billions of contact lenses get flushed down the drain every year in the US, and researchers from Arizona State University have discovered it takes more than a week for the lenses to even begin to disintegrate, according to research detailed in Scientific American".

According to ASU Now, the group, while testing the biodegradability of contact lenses, discovered that microbes found in biological wastewater-treatment plants "actually altered the surface of the contact lenses", which help lead to the lenses' "disintegration into microplastics".

The researchers anonymously surveyed and evaluated the disposal method of contact wearers and non-wearers and observed degradative effects on lenses.

The fragments are heavier than water, so they settle into the treated sewage sludge, which is often spread on land. Runoff then brings these contaminants back to the oceans. Also, they do not respond to bacteria used to break down pollutants. microplastics, may be ingested by fish, corals and other animals. Fortunately, in an effort to minimize the waste generated by disposable contact lenses and facilitate the recycling process, some eye care companies have started their own recycling initiatives. According to a study carried out in 2015, around 23,6000 metric tons of microplastic was found swirling in the ocean.

Microplastics are detrimental to the environment.       Loretta Sze  Shutterstock
Microplastics are detrimental to the environment. Loretta Sze Shutterstock

The bad news being, lenses do not biodegrade easily even if they are biomedical goods.

"Don't put those lenses into wastewater".

"It sounds like a very small problem, because the lenses themselves are tiny, but they come by the billions."
. It does not go away.

Contact lenses are a small part of the pollution problem, Rolsky said, but he hopes that the findings encourage people to think more about how to get rid of plastic waste.

Contact wearers should throw their lenses in the trash or recycle them, the researchers advise.

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