Flushing your old contact lenses down the drain have damaged the environment as plastic pollution in oceans and rivers is already a serious threat.
It is estimated that approximately 4.2 million in the UK wear contact lenses and one in five persons throws them away down the sink or toilet.
A new study elaborated in the US has concluded that contact lenses pose a serious threat for the aquatic creatures as they can be easily eaten by fish. K=Later, those fish may be served in a restaurant and you may find a surprise while eating your favorite dinner.
Dr. Rolf Halen has used contact lenses for most of her adult life. One day she started to wonder how people dispose of them. A study team was soon assembled and the first results were not very encouraging as 19% of the participants in a study declared that the flush the lenses. If you consider that in the US over 45 million people wear contact lenses, the number is quite high.
It is estimated that over 10 metrics of plastic lenses end up in the wastewater every year in the US. The lenses are very hard to spot in wastewater since they are transparent. Their unique composition is also an interesting factor to take into account as they may react differently to water treatments.
After exposure to cleaning agents and microbes, the lenses tend to break down into smaller parts, also known as microplastics. They may be eaten by some aquatic organisms which mistake them for actual food and they can end up hurting a large segment of the food chain as they pass from one animal to another.
The researchers hope that their study will have some impact on how people choose to throw the contact lenses away after they are done with them, starting with advices from manufacturers on how to properly dispose of them.
Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here