Scientists Find Microplastics in Soil Samples From the First Century CE

Scientists at York University in England have made a groundbreaking finding that was written up in the journal Science of the Total Environment. In modern and preserved soil samples from strata deeper than 23 feet (7.01 meters), dating to the first or second century CE, they have discovered 16 distinct forms of microplastic polymers. Tiny plastic particles known as microplastics may be found in commonplace products, including clothes, cosmetics, and cigarettes. They are smaller than a rice grain, with a length of less than 5 mm. The researchers claim that, up until 2020, microplastics were often used in cosmetics.

This finding was announced by John Schofield, a professor and director of studies at the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. “This feels like a significant moment, proving what we should have anticipated: that plastics have contaminated what was previously believed to be pure archaeological deposits, ready for study,” he said. This covers deposits that were kept and sampled in the late 1980s.

Why there is a lot to be concerned about microplastics

Because of the harm that microplastics do to people and marine life, they are an annoyance. They are widely distributed across the waters and might endanger creatures both physically and toxicologically. When it comes to the marine ecosystem, they are a major contributing factor to coral bleaching. Corals are impacted by variations in temperature, light, or nutrition in coral bleaching. They throw out the symbiotic algae that live in their tissues as a result. Consequently, it fully whitens them.

When it comes to people, items that include microplastics as an active component are the direct source of microplastics entering their circulation. Additionally, they get into the bloodstream by ancillary routes like the food chain or consuming water. Microplastics are allegedly used as active components in a wide range of consumer goods, including paints, cosmetics, and sanitary pads, as well as those used in medicine.

The scientists devised several methods to get rid of microplastics because of their serious effects. The process of taking them out of the water is one of them. Microplastics may be removed from wastewater using electrolytic treatment. Its foundation is the use of electricity between electrodes to neutralize contaminants found in ionic forms in an aqueous solution.