Here's How Your Contact Lenses May Be Polluting the Ocean

Millions of tonnes of plastic are being dumped in the ocean

Those contact lenses then end up in the water supply, contributing to the growing problem of micro-plastic pollution. The latter scenario is not harmless, says Rolf Halden, director of ASU's Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering and one of the study's authors.

The researchers reported in a study presented on Sunday at National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Boston that contact lenses tend to be denser than water, so they sunk, and could ultimately pose a threat to aquatic life, especially bottom feeders that may ingest the contacts.

"A simple first step would be for manufacturers to provide on product packaging, information on how to properly dispose of contact lenses, which is simply by placing them in the trash with other solid waste", Halden said.

According to a recent study, United States citizens flush down between two to three billion lenses every year, a total of 44,000 to 51,000 pounds (20-23 metric tons). This results in an estimated 50,000 pounds of lenses in bathroom sinks and toilets.

Over the last decade, the use of softer plastic contact lenses has grown rapidly with people using daily, weekly or monthly disposables in greater numbers than ever before.

'We found that there were noticeable changes in the bonds of the contact lenses after long-term treatment with the plant's microbes, ' said Varun Kelkar, another researcher on the team from ASU, when speaking to Mail Online. At the end, the Contact Lenses Research report proposes fresh project SWOT analysis, investment feasibility and Contact Lenses investment return analysis.

Once sewage laden with contact lens fragments is pumped onto soil it may seep into the environment in different ways, the researchers say. Since plastic isn't digestible, however, these microplastics have a severe effect on the animals' digestive systems.

It's important to keep the findings in perspective; Halden points out that contacts make up a "very, very small fraction" of the plastics that ultimately wind up in the ocean, and serve a far more useful objective than "frivolous" plastics like single-use bags and straws.

"I had worn glasses and contact lenses for most of my adult life", said Halden, according to the paper released by Arizona State University.

That failure to break down led the researchers to a startling conclusion: as much as 23,000 kilograms of lenses (about 50,000 pounds) may accumulate in sewage sludge in the US each year.

It turns out a lot of people do this - Americans use about 14 billion of them per year.

According to the researchers, these materials are not routinely screened for environmental monitoring studies, which is why pollution from contact lenses has avoided detection until now. These animals are part of a long food chain.

This is a good thing when it comes to contact lenses, because, he said, you don't want them to degrade in the user's eye, which could impair vision or become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Examining what happens to these lenses is a tough task for several reasons. Well, now contact lens manufacturers don't include any information on the packaging about how to dispose of the used product. For about every kilogram of this sludge, one pair of contact lenses can be found on average.



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