Microplastic pollutants in Cauvery river affecting fishes

Microplastic pollutants in Cauvery river (Kaveri River) affecting fishes

A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has warned that the presence of microplastics in the Cauvery river can harm fish.

For the purpose of studying microplastics in water bodies, samples were collected from three different bodies with different water flows. This was done because the movement of water affects the concentration of pollutants.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • Raman spectroscopy was used for the study. Microplastics, and ‘toxic chemicals’ containing the cyclohexyl functional group were detected during the study.
  • These microplastics and chemicals have been found to be responsible for diseases in fish.
  • Raman spectroscopy is a loss-free chemical analysis technique. It provides detailed information about chemical structure, phase and molecular interactions.
  • Chemicals containing the cyclohexyl group, commonly used in the agriculture and pharmaceutical industry.
  • Unstable molecules called ROS (reactive oxygen species) have been found in fish cells. They are responsible for damaging DNA.
  • Skeletal degeneration, DNA damage, premature death of cells, heart damage and increased mortality have been observed in fish. Even after removing these microbes, such deformities have been observed in them.
  • Microbes such as Cyclops, Daphnia, Spirogyra, Spirochaeta and E. coli were also present in the waters from where the samples were taken. These are known bio-indicators of water contamination.
  • Lakhs of people are dependent on the water of river Kaveri. However, the currently detected concentrations are not dangerous to humans. But, its long-term effects cannot be ruled out.


  • Microplastics are plastic products whose size is less than 5 mm. These include microfibers (most abundant), pieces, pellets, flakes, sheets or foams.
  • They enter water bodies through various routes. These include atmospheric deposits, runoff from contaminated land or municipal waste water, etc.

Source – The Hindu

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