Microplastics are any form of plastic fragment smaller than 5 mm and are a pollutant which is harmful to the environment we live in. Microplastics come in two different categories: primary (which directly enter the environment) and secondary (from the breakdown of larger plastics). Microplastics are pervasive in the environment and have been found in drinking water, both bottled and tap water, fresh water, food, air, and marine systems.
Emergent contaminants like microplastics are becoming a relatively recent form of pollution in various ecosystems throughout India. The majority of the plastic debris in marine environments—about 80% of it—comes from terrestrial sources and is known to be transported by rivers. Microplastics produced as marine plastic pollution degrades cause climate change indirectly by harming ocean life and directly by emitting greenhouse gases.
There are many factors that contribute to the microplastic contamination of groundwater in India, including tourism-related activities, industrial and domestic effluent discharges, fragmentation of poorly managed plastic debris, and riverine leaching. Airborne microplastic contamination also poses a serious threat in India, one of the cities with the worst air quality.
Due to the non-degradable nature of plastic and the fact that it persists in many ecosystems, excessive plastic use is becoming a significant cause of environmental concern, even though India has banned single-use plastics. India, one of the world's top producers of plastic waste, is gradually stepping up its microplastic research. By using evidence from field research and reviewing the available scientific literature, this article aims to present the most recent understanding of microplastic pollution in Uttarakhand's environment.