Plastics: The Adverse Effects Of Plastic On The Environment

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1. INTRODUCTION Plastics are manmade molecule of long chain polymer. Substitution of natural material by synthetic polymers started more than half a century ago and the plastic became an indispensable part of life. (1) Stability strength and durability are the main features of plastics which impress all the mankind. With time these features are improved. This makes plastics being resistant to majority of environmental influences.
Greek word “Plastikos” is the origin of word “plastic” which means “able to be molded into different shapes”. (15)
The word wide production of petroleum based synthetic polymers are approximately 140 million tones / year and this will be deposited in ecosystem as waste product. (29)
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Many studies show the adverse effects of plastic on ecosystem. Plants, animals and humans are getting equally affected. Studies showed the micro particles of plastics are found in muscles of fishes. This is toxic for them and fishes are dead because of it. By this the particles are also entering the food chain and affecting even other organisms. Animals may eat plastics as they mistake them as their food. Adverse effects may include endocrine disruption, decreased fish populations and reduced species evenness and richness.…show more content…
In mineralization by microorganism, the biochemical transformation of compounds is biodegradation. Photo-oxidation, abiotic hydrolysis, physical disintegration may enhance biodegradation. (23) Biodegradation may also refer to loss of mechanical strength or change in surface properties, breakage of backbone chain, enzymatic degradation and thus loss in molecular weight. (25,13)
According to ASTM standard, D-5488-94d biodegradation is defined as “a process which is capable of decomposition of materials into CO2, H2O, methane, inorganic compounds or biomass in which the predominant mechanism is the enzymatic action of micro-organisms that can be measured by standard tests, in a specified period of time, reflecting available disposal conditions.”
After degradation the metabolites which are released are supposed to be non-toxic to the nature and should be redistributed via sulphur, carbon and nitrogen cycle. Degradation in this case in chemical reaction in nature but getting done by biological material (i.e. microorganisms) generally via chemicals which are catalytic in nature, eg. Enzymes. Enzyme availability, site availability on the polymer for attack of enzymes, specificity of enzyme for the polymer and coenzyme availability are the factors for susceptibility of polymer to the microbial attack

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