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Journal ArticleDOI

Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks

04 Oct 2011-Environmental Science & Technology (American Chemical Society)-Vol. 45, Iss: 21, pp 9175-9179

TL;DR: It is shown that microplastic contaminates the shorelines at 18 sites worldwide representing six continents from the poles to the equator, with more material in densely populated areas, but no clear relationship between the abundance of miocroplastics and the mean size-distribution of natural particulates.
Abstract: Plastic debris 1900 fibers per wash. This suggests that a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes. As the human population grows and people use more synthetic textiles, contamination of habitats and animals by microplastic is likely to increase.
Topics: Population (52%), Microplastics (50%)
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This review of 68 studies compares the methodologies used for the identification and quantification of microplastics from the marine environment and suggests standardized sampling procedures which allow the spatiotemporal comparison ofmicroplastic abundance across marine environments.
Abstract: This review of 68 studies compares the methodologies used for the identification and quantification of microplastics from the marine environment. Three main sampling strategies were identified: selective, volume-reduced, and bulk sampling. Most sediment samples came from sandy beaches at the high tide line, and most seawater samples were taken at the sea surface using neuston nets. Four steps were distinguished during sample processing: density separation, filtration, sieving, and visual sorting of microplastics. Visual sorting was one of the most commonly used methods for the identification of microplastics (using type, shape, degradation stage, and color as criteria). Chemical and physical characteristics (e.g., specific density) were also used. The most reliable method to identify the chemical composition of microplastics is by infrared spectroscopy. Most studies reported that plastic fragments were polyethylene and polypropylene polymers. Units commonly used for abundance estimates are “items per m2” ...

2,040 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This review focuses on marine invertebrates and their susceptibility to the physical impacts of microplastic uptake and an assessment of the relative susceptibility of different feeding guilds.
Abstract: Plastic debris at the micro-, and potentially also the nano-scale, are widespread in the environment. Microplastics have accumulated in oceans and sediments worldwide in recent years, with maximum concentrations reaching 100 000 particles m3. Due to their small size, microplastics may be ingested by low trophic fauna, with uncertain consequences for the health of the organism. This review focuses on marine invertebrates and their susceptibility to the physical impacts of microplastic uptake. Some of the main points discussed are (1) an evaluation of the factors contributing to the bioavailability of microplastics including size and density; (2) an assessment of the relative susceptibility of different feeding guilds; (3) an overview of the factors most likely to influence the physical impacts of microplastics such as accumulation and translocation; and (4) the trophic transfer of microplastics. These findings are important in guiding future marine litter research and management strategies.

1,957 citations


Cites background or result from "Accumulation of Microplastic on Sho..."

  • ...This corresponds with recent studies, which have found a prevalence of microplastic fibres in coastal sediments (Browne et al., 2011; Claessens et al., 2011)....

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  • ...Browne et al. (2011) found microplastics on eighteen shores across six continents, with a tendency towards fibrous shapes....

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  • ...Concentrations of plastic fibres ( 1 mm) ranging from 2 (Australia) to 31 (Portugal) fibres 250 ml 1 contaminated 18 shores across six continents, with concentration positively correlating with population density (Browne et al., 2011)....

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  • ...Maximum concentrations of 124 fibres l 1 were reported and a significant relationship between microplastic abundance and human population-density was found (Browne et al., 2011)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Matthew Cole1, P. Lindeque1, Elaine S. Fileman1, Claudia Halsband2  +3 moreInstitutions (3)
TL;DR: It is shown that microplastics are ingested by, and may impact upon, zooplankton, and imply that marine microplastic debris can negatively impact upon zoopLankton function and health.
Abstract: Small plastic detritus, termed “microplastics”, are a widespread and ubiquitous contaminant of marine ecosystems across the globe. Ingestion of microplastics by marine biota, including mussels, worms, fish, and seabirds, has been widely reported, but despite their vital ecological role in marine food-webs, the impact of microplastics on zooplankton remains under-researched. Here, we show that microplastics are ingested by, and may impact upon, zooplankton. We used bioimaging techniques to document ingestion, egestion, and adherence of microplastics in a range of zooplankton common to the northeast Atlantic, and employed feeding rate studies to determine the impact of plastic detritus on algal ingestion rates in copepods. Using fluorescence and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy we identified that thirteen zooplankton taxa had the capacity to ingest 1.7–30.6 μm polystyrene beads, with uptake varying by taxa, life-stage and bead-size. Post-ingestion, copepods egested faecal pellets lade...

1,278 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
15 May 2015-Water Research
TL;DR: The issue of microplastics in freshwater systems is reviewed to summarise current understanding, identify knowledge gaps and suggest future research priorities.
Abstract: Plastic contamination is an increasing environmental problem in marine systems where it has spread globally to even the most remote habitats. Plastic pieces in smaller size scales, microplastics (particles <5 mm), have reached high densities (e.g., 100,000 items per m(3)) in waters and sediments, and are interacting with organisms and the environment in a variety of ways. Early investigations of freshwater systems suggest microplastic presence and interactions are equally as far reaching as are being observed in marine systems. Microplastics are being detected in freshwaters of Europe, North America, and Asia, and the first organismal studies are finding that freshwater fauna across a range of feeding guilds ingest microplastics. Drawing from the marine literature and these initial freshwater studies, we review the issue of microplastics in freshwater systems to summarise current understanding, identify knowledge gaps and suggest future research priorities. Evidence suggests that freshwater systems may share similarities to marine systems in the types of forces that transport microplastics (e.g. surface currents); the prevalence of microplastics (e.g. numerically abundant and ubiquitous); the approaches used for detection, identification and quantification (e.g. density separation, filtration, sieving and infrared spectroscopy); and the potential impacts (e.g. physical damage to organisms that ingest them, chemical transfer of toxicants). Differences between freshwater and marine systems include the closer proximity to point sources in freshwaters, the typically smaller sizes of freshwater systems, and spatial and temporal differences in the mixing/transport of particles by physical forces. These differences between marine and freshwater systems may lead to differences in the type of microplastics present. For example, rivers may show a predictable pattern in microplastic characteristics (size, shape, relative abundance) based on waste sources (e.g. household vs. industrial) adjacent to the river, and distance downstream from a point source. Given that the study of microplastics in freshwaters has only arisen in the last few years, we are still limited in our understanding of 1) their presence and distribution in the environment; 2) their transport pathways and factors that affect distributions; 3) methods for their accurate detection and quantification; 4) the extent and relevance of their impacts on aquatic life. We also do not know how microplastics might transfer from freshwater to terrestrial ecosystems, and we do not know if and how they may affect human health. This is concerning because human populations have a high dependency on freshwaters for drinking water and for food resources. Increasing the level of understanding in these areas is essential if we are to develop appropriate policy and management tools to address this emerging issue.

1,129 citations


Cites background from "Accumulation of Microplastic on Sho..."

  • ...These secondary source microplastics are therefore also likely to have long residence times in freshwater systems (Zubris and Richards, 2005; Browne et al., 2011), whether they be natural water bodies (rivers and lakes), modified water bodies (e.g. dammed reservoirs), or artificial water bodies…...

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  • ...Their presence has been noted on coastlines of all continents (e.g. Browne et al., 2011; Zurcher, 2009; Ivar do Sul and Costa, 2007), in remote locations such as midAtlantic archipelago islands (Ivar do Sul et al., 2009; Ivar do Sul et al., 2013), sub Antarctic islands (Eriksson et al., 2013), the…...

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  • ...Plastic debris items, ranging in size from themicroscopic to itemsmetres in size, are found in benthic and pelagic habitats in all oceans, and in remote locations such as the Arctic, Southern Ocean and the deep sea (Barnes et al., 2009, 2010; Browne et al., 2011; Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2013; Obbard et al., 2014)....

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  • ...These secondary source microplastics are therefore also likely to have long residence times in freshwater systems (Zubris and Richards, 2005; Browne et al., 2011), whether they be natural water bodies (rivers...

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  • ...We have a poor understanding of degradation rates and of fragmentation, and this is of concern because the spread and abundance of microplastics is increasing (Browne et al., 2011; Law and Thompson, 2014)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This review critically evaluates the current literature on the presence, behaviour and fate of microplastics in freshwater and terrestrial environments and, where appropriate, draws on relevant studies from other fields including nanotechnology, agriculture and waste management.
Abstract: Plastic debris is an environmentally persistent and complex contaminant of increasing concern. Understanding the sources, abundance and composition of microplastics present in the environment is a huge challenge due to the fact that hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic material is manufactured for societal use annually, some of which is released to the environment. The majority of microplastics research to date has focussed on the marine environment. Although freshwater and terrestrial environments are recognised as origins and transport pathways of plastics to the oceans, there is still a comparative lack of knowledge about these environmental compartments. It is highly likely that microplastics will accumulate within continental environments, especially in areas of high anthropogenic influence such as agricultural or urban areas. This review critically evaluates the current literature on the presence, behaviour and fate of microplastics in freshwater and terrestrial environments and, where appropriate, also draws on relevant studies from other fields including nanotechnology, agriculture and waste management. Furthermore, we evaluate the relevant biological and chemical information from the substantial body of marine microplastic literature, determining the applicability and comparability of this data to freshwater and terrestrial systems. With the evidence presented, the authors have set out the current state of the knowledge, and identified the key gaps. These include the volume and composition of microplastics entering the environment, behaviour and fate of microplastics under a variety of environmental conditions and how characteristics of microplastics influence their toxicity. Given the technical challenges surrounding microplastics research, it is especially important that future studies develop standardised techniques to allow for comparability of data. The identification of these research needs will help inform the design of future studies, to determine both the extent and potential ecological impacts of microplastic pollution in freshwater and terrestrial environments.

999 citations


Cites background from "Accumulation of Microplastic on Sho..."

  • ...An additional source of 200 secondary microplastics is derived from synthetic fabrics, which can shed up to 1900 fibres per 201 garment during washing (Browne et al., 2011)....

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  • ...…identified by many 233 studies as the most abundant microplastic particle type found throughout freshwater, terrestrial and 234 marine environments (Browne et al., 2011; Dubaish and Liebezeit, 2013; Free et al., 2014; Zubris and 235 Richards, 2005), with primary microbeads from personal care…...

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  • ...In these 264 cases, plastic particles are likely to be well-contained and so unlikely to leach into the surrounding 265 environment (Browne et al., 2011; Cieślik et al., 2015; Dubaish and Liebezeit, 2013; Rillig, 2012; Zubris 266 and Richards, 2005)....

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References
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TL;DR: Global plastics production and the accumulation of plastic waste are documented, showing that trends in mega- and macro-plastic accumulation rates are no longer uniformly increasing and that the average size of plastic particles in the environment seems to be decreasing.
Abstract: One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics. Within just a few decades since mass production of plastic...

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07 May 2004-Science
TL;DR: It is shown that microscopic plastic fragments and fibers are also widespread in the marine environment and may persist for centuries.
Abstract: Millions of metric tons of plastic are produced annually. Countless large items of plastic debris are accumulating in marine habitats worldwide and may persist for centuries ([ 1 ][1]–[ 4 ][2]). Here we show that microscopic plastic fragments and fibers ([Fig. 1A][3]) are also widespread in the

2,544 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Model calculations and experimental observations consistently show that polyethylene accumulates more organic contaminants than other plastics such as polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride, and PCBs could transfer from contaminated plastics to streaked shearwater chicks.
Abstract: Plastics debris in the marine environment, including resin pellets, fragments and microscopic plastic fragments, contain organic contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides (2,2′-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane, hexachlorinated hexanes), polybrominated diphenylethers, alkylphenols and bisphenol A, at concentrations from sub ng g–1 to µg g–1. Some of these compounds are added during plastics manufacture, while others adsorb from the surrounding seawater. Concentrations of hydrophobic contaminants adsorbed on plastics showed distinct spatial variations reflecting global pollution patterns. Model calculations and experimental observations consistently show that polyethylene accumulates more organic contaminants than other plastics such as polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride. Both a mathematical model using equilibrium partitioning and experimental data have demonstrated the transfer of contaminants from plastic to organisms. A feeding experiment indicated that PCBs could transfer from contaminated plastics to streaked shearwater chicks. Plasticizers, other plastics additives and constitutional monomers also present potential threats in terrestrial environments because they can leach from waste disposal sites into groundwater and/or surface waters. Leaching and degradation of plasticizers and polymers are complex phenomena dependent on environmental conditions in the landfill and the chemical properties of each additive. Bisphenol A concentrations in leachates from municipal waste disposal sites in tropical Asia ranged from sub µg l–1 to mg l–1 and were correlated with the level of economic development.

1,629 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Current understanding of the benefits and concerns surrounding the use of plastics are synthesized, and future priorities, challenges and opportunities are looked to.
Abstract: Plastics have transformed everyday life; usage is increasing and annual production is likely to exceed 300 million tonnes by 2010. In this concluding paper to the Theme Issue on Plastics, the Environment and Human Health, we synthesize current understanding of the benefits and concerns surrounding the use of plastics and look to future priorities, challenges and opportunities. It is evident that plastics bring many societal benefits and offer future technological and medical advances. However, concerns about usage and disposal are diverse and include accumulation of waste in landfills and in natural habitats, physical problems for wildlife resulting from ingestion or entanglement in plastic, the leaching of chemicals from plastic products and the potential for plastics to transfer chemicals to wildlife and humans. However, perhaps the most important overriding concern, which is implicit throughout this volume, is that our current usage is not sustainable. Around 4 per cent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics and a similar amount is used as energy in the process. Yet over a third of current production is used to make items of packaging, which are then rapidly discarded. Given our declining reserves of fossil fuels, and finite capacity for disposal of waste to landfill, this linear use of hydrocarbons, via packaging and other short-lived applications of plastic, is simply not sustainable. There are solutions, including material reduction, design for end-of-life recyclability, increased recycling capacity, development of bio-based feedstocks, strategies to reduce littering, the application of green chemistry life-cycle analyses and revised risk assessment approaches. Such measures will be most effective through the combined actions of the public, industry, scientists and policymakers. There is some urgency, as the quantity of plastics produced in the first 10 years of the current century is likely to approach the quantity produced in the entire century that preceded.

1,437 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The data indicate as plastic fragments into smaller particles, the potential for accumulation in the tissues of an organism increases and further work using a wider range of organisms, polymers, and periods of exposure will be required to establish the biological consequences of this debris.
Abstract: Plastics debris is accumulating in the environment and is fragmenting into smaller pieces; as it does, the potential for ingestion by animals increases. The consequences of macroplastic debris for wildlife are well documented, however the impacts of microplastic (< 1 mm) are poorly understood. The mussel, Mytilus edulis, was used to investigate ingestion, translocation, and accumulation of this debris. Initial experiments showed that upon ingestion, microplastic accumulated in the gut. Mussels were subsequently exposed to treatments containing seawater and microplastic (3.0 or 9.6 microm). After transfer to clean conditions, microplastic was tracked in the hemolymph. Particles translocated from the gut to the circulatory system within 3 days and persisted for over 48 days. Abundance of microplastic was greatest after 12 days and declined thereafter. Smaller particles were more abundant than larger particles and our data indicate as plastic fragments into smaller particles, the potential for accumulation in the tissues of an organism increases. The short-term pulse exposure used here did not result in significant biological effects. However, plastics are exceedingly durable and so further work using a wider range of organisms, polymers, and periods of exposure will be required to establish the biological consequences of this debris.

1,262 citations


Performance
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No. of citations received by the Paper in previous years
YearCitations
202237
2021525
2020448
2019289
2018213
2017151