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

An interesting study has revealed an unlikely source of environmental threat, which contributes heavily to micro-plastic pollution. There are around 45 million people every day who use contact lenses in the United States, and a study done by the Arizona State University reports that these people are not very good disposers of the flexible plastics. This has been adding up for a long time and has contributed heavily to major environmental problems. The findings were presented at the 256th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

The study revealed that there was an annual piling of 6 to 10 metric tons of these plastic lenses in the wastewaters of the country. Owing to the wastewater treatment design, there is an increasing level of micro-plastic pollution in the waterways, which ultimately reaches the food chain. The study took place in three phases, which started with questioning a sample of 139 people as to how the contact lenses reach the wastewater. 19 percent of the respondents said that their contacts were flushed down the toilet or sink, which took an even more problematic form as they reached the wastewater plants. The second and third phases concluded that these plastics come into contact with microbes in the wastewater and are ultimately converted into micro-plastics. Thus, they are almost impossible to filter out and being denser than water, sink to the base of the aquatic zone, where they are consumed by bottom feeders. The team suggested that people should be more aware as to how to dispose these lenses, and that lens manufacturers should inform people about best strategies for their disposal.

Meanwhile, a 42 year old woman in Scotland went to the doctors with her upper eyelid becoming swollen and causing her pain; however, she was shocked to know that the pain was due to a contact lens that had been stuck there for 28 years. The doctors had discovered a cyst of about 8 mm in size, which after operating upon, was found to enclose a rigid gas-permeable contact lens. The location of the lump was just beneath her left eyebrow, and grew in a period of 6 months. The woman said that she had been hit with a badminton shuttlecock in the eye when she was around 14 years old, which may explain the source of her problems.