Microplastics in Major Indian Rivers

As per the Encyclopedic Entry of the Resource Library of National Geographic ‘Microplastics’ are defined as tiny plastic particles that result from both commercial product development and the breakdown of larger plastics. As a pollutant, microplastics can be harmful to the environment and animal health. Whereas, United Nations Environment Programme defines ‘Microplastics’ as tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter. Quantification of microplastics is in high rise in various western countries. Whereas, in India the study is completed in some rivers, and in progress in few others. However, the same is yet to done in various others rivers. The blog post intends to provide the determined values of microplastics in major Indian rivers. I have also taken efforts to tabulate the values obtained for some other rivers as well. I hope the study is taken in large scale and appropriate steps are taken before hand to control its increase and thus the future health efforts.

In the current study values of microplastics are reported from the sediments of the water bodies. These values are generally higher than those in actual water. As most of the research papers have reported in sediments, I am also reporting the same.

Map showing average microplastics value in various major rivers in India

Microplastic is measured as the number of microplastic (MP) per kg of water. They are also measured as gram of microplastic (MP) per kg of water. SIP: Study in Progress. SND: Study not Done.

Please note: These are average values and can change as per following parameters: sampling points, altitude, nearby human settlements, industrialization near the river, distance of dumping sites from the river shore etc.

It can be seen that most of the rivers have about 300 MP/kg. However, larger rivers like Indus and Brahmaputra have values even touching 2000 MP/kg. Values obtained for other rivers are mentioned below:

  • Adyar River, Tamil Nadu: 0.33 particle/L in the water
  • Netravathi River, Karnataka 288 pieces/m3 in water
  • Offshore of Bay of Bengal 16,107 ± 47,077 items/km2 in water
  • In front of Kerala, southwest coast of India 1.25 ± 0.88 particles/m3 in water

Study of microplastics in lakes, local water bodies and gutters would be supremely important and that to periodically. As this study dosen’t have much economic benefit nor many are interested, is getting delayed. This values needs to be periodically.

Dear Readers, do go through the above blog post on ‘Microplastics in Major Indian Rivers’ and let me know your viewpoints in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

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Lechthaler, S.; Waldschläger, K.; Sandhani, C.G.; Sannasiraj, S.A.; Sundar, V.; Schwarzbauer, J.; Schüttrumpf, H. Baseline Study on Microplastics in Indian Rivers under Different Anthropogenic Influences. Water 2021, 13, 1648.










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