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Microplastics in Cauvery river

Date: 13 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous


A recent study by IISc researchers found that Cauvery River contains significant amount of microplastics.



The study was carried out after observing deformities in fish sold on the river’s bank.



  • The study has been titled as ‘Evaluation of cytogenotoxic potential and embryotoxicity of KRS-Cauvery River water in zebrafish’.

  • The study tried to ascertain effects of microplastics, which may have been contributing to growth defects in fish. 

  • It believes that microplastics in the river might lead to a negative impact on humans in the long-term. 



  • The study discovered that KRS Cauvery River was hypoxic or oxygen-deficient. They also found the presence of microplastics that are at least 5mm small. 

  • The fishes were found to have suffered early cell death, heart damage, skeletal deformities, an increased mortality rate and DNA damage.


Reasons for occurrence

The use of plastic and unscientific disposal of waste in water has increased since the Covid-19 pandemic due to infection fears.


Effects of microplastics on aquatic life

  • Due to decrease in oxygen levels in water, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are formed. They are unstable oxygen-based chemicals.

  • The build-up of ROS causes damage to DNA and has similar effects on cells and organs of living organisms.



  • They are small fragments of plastics that are less than 5 mm (0.20 in) in length. They are harmful to aquatic and human lives.

  • Microplastics are found in several household and industrial products, and chemicals used in agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry.


Cauvery river

  • Cauvery is a peninsular non-perennial river flowing through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, emptying in the Bay of Bengal.

  • The catchment area of the river spreads across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. It is the cause of dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

  • It originates at Talakaveri in the Brahmagiri range in the Western Ghats before entering the Tamil Nadu plains.

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