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Action needed to prevent microplastic
from entering water resources 微塑膠「禍水」 規管莫遲疑
Publishing Date: 2017/10/13

雙語社評齊齊聽

英語 (足本收聽)

普通話 (足本收聽)

【明報專訊】THE plastic revolution has revolutionised human lives. But it has also brought about the problem of pollution. According to a latest study conducted internationally, the water people drink every day contains microplastic invisible to the naked eye. Microplastic pollution has become a new environmental topic in recent years, with more and more people concerned that microplastic can enter the food chain — and then the human body — and potentially harm human health. The impact of microplastic on the environment, ecology and the human race, like that of global warming, might not be clear until many years later. That, however, does not mean that we can pay little regard to the problem and sit on the sidelines before scientists reach a consensus or conclusion. The SAR government should investigate the situation in Hong Kong as soon as possible. It should also learn from the experience of other countries and consider banning products containing microplastic through legislation.

ENG audio 1

"In misfortune lurks fortune, in fortune lurks misfortune," as the saying goes. The industrial revolution in the 18th century greatly enhanced human live. But it also sowed the seeds of global warming, a problem we are faced with nowadays. The plastic revolution, which began in the late 19th century, enabled manufacturers to produce all sort of high-quality but cost-efficient merchandise with a cheap, artificial material. While this has benefited ordinary people, it has also brought about the problem of plastic pollution. Microplastic refers to microscopic plastic particles or fragments that measure less than five millimetres in diameter or length. It comes from three major sources. The first is plastic purposefully manufactured as "super small" ones, which are normally found in cosmetic products, facial cleansers and toothpastes. The "microbeads" in some face scrubs are in fact microplastic. Another major source is fragments crushed off big sheets of plastic, which the oceans are mostly littered with. The last is microplastic dusts that come from daily wear and tear, such as those produced when tyres are rubbed against road surfaces.

ENG audio 2

In the past, scientists' focus was mainly on how the oceans were polluted by microplastic and how it was swallowed by fish and entered the food chain. The latest study, however, shows that it was a long time ago when microplastic began to exist in water resources for humans. Not only do we swallow microplastic by eating fish, but we are also drinking it directly. 80 per cent of water samples taken by researchers from twelve countries were found to contain microplastic. Although Hong Kong and mainland China were not within the scope of the country, we can hardly believe that the two regions can be isolated from the problem. The Environmental Protection Department must give proper regard to this problem and find out more about the situation in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

ENG audio 3

Currently, scientists know little about what kind of impact on health will be brought about by microplastic that accumulates in the human body. However, as toxics such as residues of DDT, a pesticide, are often attached to microplastic, people are inevitably worried about its harm in the long term. Faced with this new environmental topic, the environmental protection authorities in Hong Kong should not take a hands-off approach on the pretext that the World Health Organisation has not yet prescribed an acceptable level of microplastic content. It is the responsibility of all humans to protect the environment and reduce the use of plastic. The government should not only increase awareness of the issue but also learn from the experience from places like Taiwan and South Korea and consider banning products that contain microplastic through legislation so as to make a contribution to reducing microplastic.

ENG audio 4

塑膠革命改變人類生活,也帶來污染禍患。最新國際研究顯示,人們每天飲用的食水,原來也可能充斥茼袉斯L法看到的微塑膠(microplastic)。微塑膠污染是近年新興的環境課題,愈來愈多專家關注微塑膠透過食物鏈進入人體,可能危害健康。就像全球暖化一樣,微塑膠對環境生態和人類的禍害,可能很多年後才會清晰浮現,然而這不代表科學家未有共識結論之前,就可以漠視懶理,遲遲放棄作為。特區當局應盡快針對本港情G展開研究,同時借鑑外地經驗,考慮立法禁售含有微塑膠的產品。

PTH audio 1

禍兮福所倚,福兮禍所伏。18世紀工業革命大幅改善人類生活,然而也種下今時今日全球暖化的惡果;19世紀末開始的塑膠革命,令生產商可以利用這種廉價人工物料,製造各式價廉物美商品,讓普羅大眾受惠,可是也引來塑膠污染禍害。微塑膠是指直徑或長度低於5毫米的迷你膠粒或碎片,來源大致可分為三大類﹕一類是刻意生產成「超迷你」模樣,常見於化妝品、潔膚產品、牙膏等,一些潔膚用磨砂產品中的「砂」,本身就是微塑膠。另一類是由大塊塑膠碎片剝裂粉碎而成,充斥於海洋的微塑膠大多就是由此而來。最後一類則是因為日常撕扯磨蝕形成的膠粒微塵,例如車胎與路面摩擦產生的塵埃等。

PTH audio 2

過去科學家主要研究海洋如何受微塑膠污染,以及微塑膠被魚類吞食,進入食物鏈的情G,然而最新研究卻顯示,微塑膠早已大量進入人類水源,公眾不止透過食魚間接將微塑膠吃進肚子,原來還會更直接「飲膠落肚」。研究員從12個國家抽取食水樣本,發現八成含有微塑膠。儘管研究範圍並不包括香港和中國大陸,然而很難想像兩地能夠倖免,環保署應予正視,盡快了解本港情G。

PTH audio 3

目前科學家尚未清楚微塑膠在體內累積,會帶來什麼影響,不過由於它們會吸附毒素,諸如農藥DDT殘餘物等等,長遠吸收難免令人擔心有害健康。面對這個新興環境課題,本港環保部門不能太過被動,更不應以世衛未有制定含量標準為藉口,撒手不管。保護環境減少使用塑膠,是全人類的責任,政府不僅應該加強宣傳,更應借鑑台灣、韓國等地的經驗,考慮立例禁止售賣含有微塑膠的產品,為減少微塑膠污染出一分力。

PTH audio 4

明報社評2017.09.08

Presented by lecturers of Hong Kong Community College, PolyU and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Mr KWOK, Tony Chun-tung
Lecturer
www.hkcc-polyu.edu.hk/staff_directory/language_communication/KWOK,_Tony_Chun-tung-111.html

焦妮娜
講師
www.hkcc-polyu.edu.hk/staff_directory/language_communication/JIAO,_Nina-108.html

【Bilingual Editorial】

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