Status of microplastic pollution in beaches and waters of Sri Lanka, What is microplastic pollution?

Ocean Watch with The Pearl Protectors


Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimetres in length are called “microplastics”. 

Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces. In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpaste. These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean, posing a potential threat to marine life.


Microplastic pollution in coastal beaches and waters of Sri Lanka


The abundance of microplastics in surface water and beach sediment in southern Sri Lanka covering a distance of 91 km of coastline was revealed in a study; microplastics were classified according to polymer type, geometry, and colour of the sites tested. Sixty percent of the sand samples and 70% of the surface water samples contained microplastics.

The size range of microplastics from surface water and beaches were 1.5-2.5 mm and 3-4.5 mm, respectively. The majority of these were identified as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) with some polystyrene (PS) foam at a few sites. Fragments derived from larger amounts of debris appear to be a dominant type of microplastics. 


How microplastics pollution affects the environment


In today’s world, plastic litter has been positioned top in the list of worldwide threats, counting climate change and ozone depletion. Marine animals mistakenly feed on the microplastics, and at the same time ingest the toxic pollutants. The chemicals accumulate in the animals’ tissues and then increase in concentration as the pollutants are transferred up the food chain.


What are the methods to reduce microplastic pollution?




  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics


Reduce single-use plastics as much as you can. Try to use eco-friendly products which are reusable and easily disposable.



  • Recycle properly


Recycling properly is the most important during this whole process. If you miss even one process, it will greatly affect and destroy the environment. Dump the specific items into the specified bins.




  • Participate in or organise a beach cleanup


Organise a beach cleanup and clean the beaches as much as you can, to save the environment from danger. If it’s not possible for you to organise these activities, participate in various environment protection teams and engage with them to save the environment.



  • Support bans


Be strong and support bans so we can live a better life in the future.


  • Avoid products containing microbeads


Microbeads are found in some face scrubs, toothpaste, and body washes you use. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads. Instead, you could use products with eco-friendly alternatives to plastic beads which are good for your body and save the environment too.




  • Spread the word


Spread the word and talk to the world about the dangers which will happen in the future.




  • Support  organisations addressing plastic pollution


Raise your hand and support organisations addressing plastic pollution and say no to plastic.


If we save Mother Nature right now by stopping the harm we are causing to it, we would see a bright, safe future ahead for our future generations.



This article was compiled by Zara Boharie, who is a volunteer of The Pearl Protectors.


Social media: @pearlprotectors


Photos © Bimali Koongolla