Here we have compiled recent studies on "Plastic in our environment". The complete original article can be found under the given links.
Research on microplastic particles in the oceans has increased significantly in recent years. This study comprehensively analyzes more than 100 publications on the effects of microparticles on the marine ecosystem. mehr
Recently, research examining the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment has substantially increased. Field and laboratory work regularly provide new evidence on the fate of microplastic debris. This debris has been observed within every marine habitat. In this study, at least 101 peer-reviewed papers investigating microplastic pollution were critically analysed (Supplementary material). Microplastics are commonly studied in relation to:
All of the marine organism groups are at an eminent risk of interacting with microplastics according to the available literature. Dozens of works on other relevant issues (i.e., polymer decay at sea, new sampling and laboratory methods, emerging sources, externalities) were also analysed and discussed. This paper provides the first in-depth exploration of the effects of microplastics on the marine environment and biota. The number of scientific publications will increase in response to present and projected plastic uses and discard patterns. Therefore, new themes and important approaches for future work are proposed.
In this study, the absorption capacities of different microplastic particles were investigated. This is important because chemicals can attach to the particles and thus be bundled through the seas. mehr
The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in the ocean is an emerging world-wide concern. Due to high sorption capacity of plastics for hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs), sorption may play an important role in the transport processes of HOCs. However, sorption capacity of various plastic materials is rarely documented except in the case of those used for environmental sampling purposes.
In this study, we measured partition coefficients between MPs and seawater (KMPsw) for 8 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 4 hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) and 2 chlorinated benzenes (CBs). Three surrogate polymers – polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene – were used as model plastic debris because they are the major components of microplastic debris found. Due to the limited solubility of HOCs in seawater and their long equilibration time, a third-phase partitioning method was used for the determination of KMPsw. First, partition coefficients between polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and seawater (KPDMSsw) were measured. For the determination of KMPsw, the distribution of HOCs between PDMS or plastics and solvent mixture (methanol:water = 8:2 (v/v)) was determined after apparent equilibrium up to 12 weeks.
Plastic debris was prepared in a laboratory by physical crushing; the median longest dimension was 320–440 μm. Partition coefficients between polyethylene and seawater obtained using the third-phase equilibrium method agreed well with experimental partition coefficients between low-density polyethylene and water in the literature. The values of KMPsw were generally in the order of polystyrene, polyethylene, and polypropylene for most of the chemicals tested. The ranges of log KMPsw were 2.04–7.87, 2.18–7.00, and 2.63–7.52 for polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene, respectively. The partition coefficients of plastic debris can be as high as other frequently used partition coefficients, such as 1-octanol–water partition coefficients (Kow) and log KMPsw showed good linear correlations with log Kow. High sorption capacity of microplastics implies the importance of MP-associated transport of HOCs in the marine environment.
This study provides evidence that zooplankton is also affected by micro-plastic. mehr
Records of high concentrations of plastic and microplastic marine debris floating in the ocean have led to investigate the presence of microplastics in samples of zooplankton from Portuguese coastal waters. Zooplankton samples collected at four offshore sites, in surveys conducted between 2002 and 2008, with three different sampling methods, were used in this preliminary study.
A total of 152 samples were processed and microplastics were identified in 93 of them, corresponding to 61% of the total. Costa Vicentina, followed by Lisboa, were the regions with higher microplastic concentrations (0.036 and 0.033 no. m−3) and abundances (0.07 and 0.06 cm3 m−3), respectively. Microplastic: zooplankton ratios were also higher in these two regions, which is probably related to the proximity of densely populated areas and inputs from the Tejo and Sado river estuaries.
Microplastics polymers were identified using Micro Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy (μ-FTIR), as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyacrylates (PA). The present work is the first report on the composition of microplastic particles collected with plankton nets in Portuguese coastal waters. Plankton surveys from regular monitoring campaigns conducted worldwide may be used to monitor plastic particles in the oceans and constitute an important and low cost tool to address marine litter within the scope of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC).
Protected areas in the Atlantic are exposed to the dangers posed by microplastics: a first diagnosis of three islands in the Canary Islands mehr
Coastal zones and the biosphere as a whole show signs of cumulative degradation due to the use and disposal of plastics. To better understand the manifestation of plastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean, we partnered with local communities to determine the concentrations of micro-plastics in 125 beaches on three islands in the Canary Current: Lanzarote, La Graciosa, and Fuerteventura. We found that, in spite of being located in highly-protected natural areas, all beaches in our study area are exceedingly vulnerable to micro-plastic pollution, with pollution levels reaching concentrations greater than 100 g of plastic in 1l of sediment. This paper contributes to ongoing efforts to develop solutions to plastic pollution by addressing the questions:
This study is the first to show that microplastic particles are already present in deep-sea deposits due to long-term contamination. Samples were taken at four locations in the depth of 1100-5000 m. mehr
Microplastics are small plastic particles (<1 mm) originating from the degradation of larger plastic debris. These microplastics have been accumulating in the marine environment for decades and have been detected throughout the water column and in sublittoral and beach sediments worldwide. However, up to now, it has never been established whether microplastic presence in sediments is limited to accumulation hot spots such as the continental shelf, or whether they are also present in deep-sea sediments.
Here we show, for the first time ever, that microplastics have indeed reached the most remote of marine environments: the deep sea. We found plastic particles sized in the micrometre range in deep-sea sediments collected at four locations representing different deep-sea habitats ranging in depth from 1100 to 5000 m. Our results demonstrate that microplastic pollution has spread throughout the world's seas and oceans, into the remote and largely unknown deep sea.
Both on coasts and in coastal waters, human contamination has been studied. This study looks at the connection between these two areas. mehr
Anthropogenic marine debris (AMD) is frequently studied on sandy beaches and occasionally in coastal waters, but links between these two environments have rarely been studied. High densities of AMD were found in coastal waters and on local shores of a large bay system in northern-central Chile. No seasonal pattern in AMD densities was found, but there was a trend of increasing densities over the entire study period.
While plastics and Styrofoam were the most common types of AMD both on shores and in coastal waters, AMD composition differed slightly between the two environments. The results suggest that AMD from coastal waters are deposited on local shores, which over time accumulate all types of AMD. The types and the very low percentages of AMD with epibionts point to mostly local sources. Based on these results, it can be concluded that a reduction of AMD will require local solutions.
Plastic waste is very often taken up by Mediterranean seabirds and can lead to death. The study examined the gastric contents of nearly 170 birds over 7 years. mehr
Plastic debris is often ingested by marine predators and can cause health disorders and even death. We present the first assessment of plastic ingestion in Mediterranean seabirds. We quantified and measured plastics accumulated in the stomach of 171 birds from 9 species accidentally caught by longliners in the western Mediterranean from 2003 to 2010.
Cory’s shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) showed the highest occurrence (94%) and large numbers of small plastic particles per affected bird (on average N = 15.3 ± 24.4 plastics and mass = 23.4 ± 49.6 mg), followed by Yelkouan shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan, 70%, N = 7.0 ± 7.9, 42.1 ± 100.0 mg), Balearic shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus, 70%, N = 3.6 ± 2.9, 5.5 ± 9.7 mg) and the rest of species (below 33%, N = 2.7, 113.6 ± 128.4 mg). Plastic characteristics did not differ between sexes and were not related to the physical condition of the birds. Our results point out the three endemic and threatened shearwater species as being particularly exposed to plastic
This is the first plastic-capture study of white-tailed tropic birds caught in O'ahu, Hawaii. mehr
Ingested plastics have been reported in necropsies of marine birds, turtles, mammals, fish, crustaceans and squid (Laist 1997, Ocean Studies Board 2008). Herein, we report the first record of plastic ingestion by a White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus (hereafter WTTR) sampled on O'ahu (Hawai'i). This observation adds a second tropicbird species (order Phaethontiformes) to the one sampled thus far and found to ingest plastic, and increases to 116 the number of seabird species in which this phenomenon has been observed.
In this study, 6 offshore islands on the northeast coast of New Zealand investigated whether the seabird colonies living there contained plastic particles in their bodies. mehr
Marine plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, and has been found in high concentrations in oceanic gyres of both the northern and southern hemispheres. The number of studies demonstrating plastic debris at seabird colonies and plastic ingestion by adult seabirds has increased over the past few decades.
Despite the recent discovery of a large aggregation of plastic debris in the South Pacific subtropical gyre, the incidence of plastics at seabird colonies in New Zealand is unknown. Between 2011 and 2012 we surveyed six offshore islands on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s North Island for burrow-nesting seabird colonies and the presence of plastic fragments.
We found non-research related plastic fragments (0.031 pieces/m2) on one island only, Ohinau, within dense flesh-footed shearwater (Puffinus carneipes) colonies. On Ohinau, we found a linear relationship between burrow density and plastic density, with 3.5 times more breeding burrows in areas with plastic fragments found. From these data we conclude that plastic ingestion is a potentially a serious issue for flesh-footed shearwaters in New Zealand. Although these results do not rule out plastic ingestion by other species, they suggest the need for further research on the relationship between New Zealand’s pelagic seabirds and marine plastic pollution.
In this study, 31 Caretta turtles were examined: 71% of the tested turtles had plastic particles in their bodies. This shows the high concentration of plastic in the Mediterranean. mehr
This work evaluated the presence and the frequency of occurrence of marine litter in the gastrointestinal tract of 31 Caretta caretta found stranded or accidentally bycaught in the North Tyrrhenian Sea. Marine debris were present in 71% of specimens and were subdivided in different categories according to Fulmar Protocol (OSPAR 2008).
The main type of marine debris found was user plastic, with the main occurrence of sheetlike user plastic. The small juveniles showed a mean ± SD of marine debris items of 19.00 ± 23.84, while the adult specimens showed higher values of marine litter if compared with the juveniles (26.87 ± 35.85). The occurrence of marine debris observed in this work confirms the high impact of marine debris in the Mediterranean Sea in respect to other seas and oceans, and highlights the importance of Caretta caretta as good indicator for marine litter in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) of European Union.
This study shows that even large marine mammals are affected by the plastic pollution of the oceans. They take plastic in the body and by the plastic accumulation in the stomach they have to starve. mehr
Marine debris has been found in marine animals since the early 20th century, but little is known about the impacts of the ingestion of debris in large marine mammals. In this study we describe a case of mortality of a sperm whale related to the ingestion of large amounts of marine debris in the Mediterranean Sea (4th published case worldwide to our knowledge), and discuss it within the context of the spatial distribution of the species and the presence of anthropogenic activities in the area that could be the source of the plastic debris found inside the sperm whale.The spatial distribution modelled for the species in the region shows that these animals can be seen in two distinct areas: near the waters of Almería, Granada and Murcia and in waters near the Strait of Gibraltar.
The results shows how these animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place. Most types of these plastic materials have been found in the individual examined and cause of death was presumed to be gastric rupture following impaction with debris, which added to a previous problem of starvation. The problem of plastics arising from greenhouse agriculture should have a relevant section in the conservation plans and should be a recommendation from ACCOBAMS due to these plastics’ and sperm whales’ high mobility in the Mediterranean Sea.
After several studies investigating the plasticity of seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals, this article is now focusing on the inclusion of plastic particles in fish. mehr
One of the primary threats to ocean ecosystems from plastic pollution is ingestion by marine organisms. Well-documented in seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals, ingestion by fish and sharks has received less attention until recently. We suggest that fishes of a variety of sizes attack drifting plastic with high frequency, as evidenced by the apparent bite marks commonly left behind.
We examined 5518 plastic items from random plots on Kamilo Point, Hawai’i Island, and found 15.8% to have obvious signs of attack. Extrapolated to the entire amount of debris removed from the 15 km area, over 1.3 tons of plastic is attacked each year. Items with a bottle shape, or those blue or yellow in color, were attacked with a higher frequency. The triangular edges or punctures left by teeth ranged from 1 to 20 mm in width suggesting a variety of species attack plastic items. More research is needed to document the specific fishes and rates of plastic ingestion.
In this study, 1203 fish from seven different North Sea species were examined. Plastic parts were found in 2.6% of the fish. mehr
To quantify the occurrence of ingested plastic in fish species caught at different geographical positions in the North Sea, and to test whether the fish condition is affected by ingestion of plastics, 1203 individual fish of seven common North Sea species were investigated: herring, gray gurnard, whiting, horse mackerel, haddock, atlantic mackerel, and cod. Plastic particles were found in 2.6% of the examined fish and in five of the seven species. No plastics were found in gray gurnard and mackerel. In most cases, only one particle was found per fish, ranging in size from 0.04 to 4.8 mm. Only particles larger than 0.2 mm, being the diameter of the sieve used, were considered for the data analyses, resulting in a median particle size of 0.8 mm.
The frequency of fish with plastic was significantly higher (5.4%) in the southern North Sea, than in the northern North Sea above 55°N (1.2%). The highest frequency (>33%) was found in cod from the English Channel. In addition, small fibers were initially detected in most of the samples, but their abundance sharply decreased when working under special clean air conditions. Therefore, these fibers were considered to be artifacts related to air born contamination and were excluded from the analyses. No relationship was found between the condition factor (size–weight relationship) of the fish and the presence of ingested plastic particles.
This study reports on plastic pollution around Australia. The level of plastic pollution is similar to that in the Caribbean Sea. mehr
Plastics represent the vast majority of human-made debris present in the oceans. However, their characteristics, accumulation zones, and transport pathways remain poorly assessed. We characterised and estimated the concentration of marine plastics in waters around Australia using surface net tows, and inferred their potential pathways using particle-tracking models and real drifter trajectories.
The 839 marine plastics recorded were predominantly small fragments (\"microplastics\", median length = 2.8 mm, mean length = 4.9 mm) resulting from the breakdown of larger objects made of polyethylene and polypropylene (e.g. packaging and fishing items). Mean sea surface plastic concentration was 4256.4 pieces km(-2), and after incorporating the effect of vertical wind mixing, this value increased to 8966.3 pieces km(-2).
These plastics appear to be associated with a wide range of ocean currents that connect the sampled sites to their international and domestic sources, including populated areas of Australia's east coast. This study shows that plastic contamination levels in surface waters of Australia are similar to those in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Maine, but considerably lower than those found in the subtropical gyres and Mediterranean Sea. Microplastics such as the ones described here have the potential to affect organisms ranging from megafauna to small fish and zooplankton.
Much of our plastic ends up in the environment. This harms the flora and fauna and us. Plastic accumulates on the coasts, the seabed and in our bodies. mehr
Plastics are one of the most widely used materials in the world; they are broadly integrated into today’s lifestyle and make a major contribution to almost all product areas. The typical characteristics that render them so useful relate primarily to the fact that they are both flexible and durable. These characteristics are very useful when plastics are used in everyday life. But when plastics are discarded into the environment they can persist for very long periods of time. Because of their nearly indestructible morphology and the toxins they contain, plastics can seriously affect ecosystems (UNEP 2005).
Plastics are cheap, strong, and durable and offer considerable benefits to humanity. They potentially can enhance the benefits that both medical and scientific technology will bestow to humankind. However, it has now been several decades since the use of plastics exploded, and we have evidence that our current approach to production, use, transport and disposal of plastic materials has caused, and is still causing serious effects on wildlife, and is not sustainable.
Because of frequent inappropriate waste management practices, or irresponsible human behavior, large masses one of plastic items have been released into the environment, and thereby have entered the world's oceans. Moreover, this process continues, and in some places is even increasing.
Most plastic debris that now exists in the marine environment originated from ocean-based sources such as the fishing industry. Plastics accumulate most widely used materials in coastal areas, at the ocean surface and on the seabed. Because 70% of all plastics are known to eventually sink, it is suspected that ever increasing amounts of plastic items world; they are accumulating in seabed sediments.
Plastics do not biodegrade, although, under the influence of solar UV radiations, plastics do degrade and fragment broadly integrated into small particles, termed microplastics. Our oceans eventually serve as a sink for these small plastic particles today’s lifestyle and in one estimate, it is thought that 200,000 microplastics per km² of the ocean's surface commonly exist.
The impact of plastic debris has been studied since the beginning of the 1960's. To date, more than 267 species in the marine environment are known make a major contribution to have been affected by plastic entanglement or ingestion. Marine mammals are among those species that are most affected by entanglement in plastic debris. By contrast, marine birds suffer the most from ingestion of plastics. Organisms can also be seriously absorbed by floating plastic debris, or the contaminants may derive from plastic additives almost all product areas.
The typical characteristics that are leached render them so useful relate primarily to the environment. Recent studies emphasize the important role of microplastics as fact that they are easily ingestible by small organisms, such as plankton species, both flexible and form a pathway for contaminants to enter the food web.
Contaminants leached from durable. These characteristics are very useful when plastics tend to bioaccumulate are used in those organisms that absorb them, and chemical concentrations everyday life. But when plastics are often higher at higher trophic levels. This causes a threat to discarded into the basis of every food web and environment they can have serious and far-reaching effects, even on nonmarine species such as polar bears and humans, who consume marine-grown food. Therefore, resolving the plastic debris problem is important to human kind persist for two reasons: we are both creator, and victim very long periods of the plastic pollution problem.
Solutions to the plastic debris problem can only be achieved through a combination of actions. Such actions include the following: Legislation against marine pollution by plastics must be enforced, recycling must be accentuated, alternatives (biodegradable) to current plastic products must be found, and clean-up time. Because of debris must proceed, if the marine plastic pollution problem is to eventually be resolved.
Governments cannot accomplish this task on their own, and will need help nearly indestructible morphology and initiative from the public. Moreover, resolving this long-standing problem will require time, money, and energy from many individuals now living and those of future generations, if a safer and cleaner marine environment is to be achieved. toxins they contain, plastics can seriously affect ecosystems (UNEP 200)
Pollutants accumulate on the surface of plastic. The surface texture of plastic plays an interesting role, as this study shows. mehr
The presence of pollutants on plastic debris is an emerging environmental hot topic. Understanding the surface alteration of plastics while in the marine environment increases our understanding of the pollutant–plastic debris interaction. Plastic pellets are widely distributed throughout the world oceans. Eroded and virgin polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) pellets were studied for their surface properties to better understand the interaction between plastic and compounds in marine environment.
Surface properties such as point of zero charge, surface area and pore volume, surface topography, functional groups and acid–base behavior are important factors which affect sorption. Virgin plastic pellets had homogeneous smooth surfaces that do not have any acid–base behavior. Eroded PE demonstrates an altered surface that at seawater pH acquires a negative charge due to ketone groups. The uneven surface and possible functional groups could have been formed from the erosion processes while floating at the sea surface and might explain the interaction of eroded plastics with microbes and metals.
Aufgrund der ständigen und zunehmenden Plastikverschmutzung der Ozeane sammeln sich immer mehr Mikroplastikpartikel im Meeresökosystem an. In dieser Studie geht es um die Herstellung von Kunststoffpartikeln, um die Injektion in das Ökosystem bis hin zu möglichen Effekten. mehr
This review discusses the mechanisms of generation and potential impacts of microplastics in the ocean environment. Weathering degradation of plastics on the beaches results in their surface embrittlement and microcracking, yielding microparticles that are carried into water by wind or wave action. Unlike inorganic fines present in sea water, microplastics concentrate persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by partition.
The relevant distribution coefficients for common 5POPs6 are several orders of magnitude in favour of the plastic medium. Consequently, the microparticles laden with high levels of 5POPs6 can be ingested by marine biota. Bioavailability and the efficiency of transfer of the ingested 5POPs6 across trophic levels are not known and the potential damage posed by these to the marine ecosystem has yet to be quantified and modelled. Given the increasing levels of plastic pollution of the oceans it is important to better understand the impact of microplastics in the ocean food web.
Microplastic particles are distributed almost everywhere in the sea. Many animals absorb these particles, get sick and die. This study provides an overview of recent investigations on plastic in the sea. mehr
Since the mass production of plastics began in the 1940s, microplastic contamination of the marine environment has been a growing problem. Here, a review of the literature has been conducted with the following objectives:
Microplastics are both abundant and widespread within the marine environment, found in their highest concentrations along coastlines and within mid-ocean gyres. Ingestion of microplastics has been demonstrated in a range of marine organisms, a process which may facilitate the transfer of chemical additives or hydrophobic waterborne pollutants to biota. We conclude by highlighting key future research areas for scientists and policymakers.
The buoyancy of plastic parts is an important aspect of global plastic pollution. There is a suspicion that the buoyancy is influenced by the attached biofilm. mehr
An important aspect of the global problem of plastic debris pollution is plastic buoyancy. There is some evidence that buoyancy is influenced by attached biofilms but as yet this is poorly understood. We submerged polyethylene plastic in seawater and sampled weekly for 3 weeks in order to study early stage processes. Microbial biofilms developed rapidly on the plastic and coincided with significant changes in the physicochemical properties of the plastic. Submerged plastic became less hydrophobic and more neutrally buoyant during the experiment. Bacteria readily colonised the plastic but there was no indication that plastic-degrading microorganisms were present. This study contributes to improved understanding of the fate of plastic debris in the marine environment.
Diese Studie präsentiert Studien von 106 La Plata Delfinen, die im Nordosten Argentiniens gefangen wurden. 28 Prozent der Tiere hatten Plastiktrümmer in ihren Mägen. mehr
Plastic debris (PD) ingestion was examined in 106 Franciscana dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei) incidentally captured in artisanal fisheries of the northern coast of Argentina. Twenty-eight percent of the dolphins presented PD in their stomach, but no ulcerations or obstructions were recorded in the digestive tracts. PD ingestion was more frequent in estuarine (34.6%) than in marine (19.2%) environments, but the type of debris was similar.
Packaging debris (cellophane, bags, and bands) was found in 64.3% of the dolphins, with a lesser proportion (35.7%) ingesting fishery gear fragments (monofilament lines, ropes, and nets) or of unknown sources (25.0%). PD ingestion correlated with ontogenetic changes in feeding regimes, reaching maximum values in recently weaned dolphins. Because a simultaneous increase in gillnet entanglement and the bioaccumulation of heavy metals take place at this stage, the first months after trophic independence should be considered as a key phase for the conservation of Franciscana dolphin stocks in northern Argentina.
The goal of this study is to identify major size classes of stranded plastics. It was found that the size of the plastic particles ranged between 50 microns and 20 cm. mehr
Plastic debris is a worldwide threat to marine environments and Portugal is not immune to it. Though never quantified, items of all sizes can be found in the Portuguese coastline; therefore the objective of this work is the identification of main size classes in stranded plastic debris. Beaches sediment was sampled and in the laboratory plastic items were sorted in 11 classes from <1 to >10 mm, counted and weighted.
Plastic size ranged from 50 μm to 20 cm and microplastics (<5 mm) were the majority (72%). Most plastic fits in the smaller size classes, due to expected high residence time in the sea enhancing degradation processes, which increase surface exposure and potentially persistent organic pollutants (POP) adsorption. These results point out the important contribution of microplastics to marine debris pollution, its risks, and the need to set a higher focus on this size class.
How much plastic is in the North Atlantic is unclear. This article summarizes research results from the years 1986 to 2008. mehr
Plastic marine pollution is a major environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of this problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. More than 60% of 6136 surface plankton net tows collected buoyant plastic pieces, typically millimeters in size. The highest concentration of plastic debris was observed in subtropical latitudes and associated with the observed large-scale convergence in surface currents predicted by Ekman dynamics. Despite a rapid increase in plastic production and disposal during this time period, no trend in plastic concentration was observed in the region of highest accumulation.
Plastic waste in the marine ecosystem poses a great threat to many wild animals. This study presents a more rapidly degradable plastic species. mehr
There is considerable concern about the hazards that plastic debris presents to wildlife. Use of polymers that degrade more quickly than conventional plastics presents a possible solution to this problem. Here we investigate breakdown of two oxo-biodegradable plastics, compostable plastic and standard polyethylene in the marine environment. Tensile strength of all materials decreased during exposure, but at different rates.
Compostable plastic disappeared from our test rig between 16 and 24 weeks whereas approximately 98% of the other plastics remained after 40 weeks. Some plastics require UV light to degrade. Transmittance of UV through oxo-biodegradable and standard polyethylene decreased as a consequence of fouling such that these materials received ∼90% less UV light after 40 weeks.
Our data indicate that compostable plastics may degrade relatively quickly compared to oxo-biodegradable and conventional plastics. While degradable polymers offer waste management solutions, there are limitations to their effectiveness in reducing hazards associated with plastic debris.
This study deals with the transport and release of chemicals from plastics into the animal and environment. mehr
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.
Plastic waste accumulates in the environment and is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. This increases the risk of ingestion by organisms. This was tested on the mussel in this study. mehr
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 µm). 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.
In this article, the Austrian Danube was examined for plastic for two years. 4.2 tons of plastic arrive daily from the Danube into the Black Sea. mehr
Previous studies on plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems focused on the world's oceans. Large rivers as major pathways for land-based plastic litter, has received less attention so far. Here we report on plastic quantities in the Austrian Danube. A two year survey (2010, 2012) using stationary driftnets detected mean plastic abundance (n = 17,349; mean ± S.D: 316.8 ± 4664.6 items per 1000 m−3) and mass (4.8 ± 24.2 g per 1000 m−3) in the river to be higher than those of drifting larval fish (n = 24,049; 275.3 ± 745.0 individuals. 1000 m−3 and 3.2 ± 8.6 g 1000 m−3). Industrial raw material (pellets, flakes and spherules) accounted for substantial parts (79.4%) of the plastic debris. The plastic input via the Danube into the Black Sea was estimated to 4.2 t per day.
This study looks at pollution in the Thames. In addition to the floating and visible plastic, there is a large amount of unseen, submerged plastic. mehr
Although contamination of the marine ecosystems by plastics is becoming recognised as a serious pollution problem, there are few studies that demonstrate the contribution made by freshwater catchments. Over a three month period from September to December 2012, at seven localities in the upper Thames estuary, 8490 submerged plastic items were intercepted in eel fyke nets anchored to the river bed.
Whilst there were significant differences in the numbers of items at these locations, the majority were some type of plastic. Additionally in excess of 20% of the litter items were components of sanitary products. The most contaminated sites were in the vicinity of sewage treatment works. While floating litter is visible, this study also demonstrates that a large unseen volume of submerged plastic is flowing into the marine environment. It is therefore important that this sub-surface component is considered when assessing plastic pollution input into the sea.
This study examined the impact of plastic on continental water ecosystems. The aim was to investigate the presence of micro-plastic in the digestive tract of the gudgeon (fish). mehr
Marine ecosystem contamination by microplastics is extensively documented. However few data is available on the contamination of continental water bodies and associated fauna. The aim of this study was to address the occurrence of microplastics in digestive tract of gudgeons (Gobio gobio) from French rivers. These investigations confirm that continental fish ingested microplastics while 12% of collected fish are contaminated by these small particles. Further works are needed to evaluate the occurence of this contamination.
In this study, seven mangrove ecosystems were studied in the beach zone near Singapore. Microplastic particles were found, counted and categorized at all sites. mehr
The prevalence of microplastics was studied in seven intertidal mangroves habitats of Singapore. Microplastics were extracted from mangrove sediments via a floatation method, and then counted and categorized according to particle shape and size. Representative microplastics from Berlayar Creek, Sungei Buloh, Pasir Ris and Lim Chu Kang were isolated for polymer identification using Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR–FTIR) spectroscopy.
Microplastics were identified in all seven habitats, with the highest concentration found in sediments at Lim Chu Kang in the northwest of Singapore. The majority of microplastics were fibrous and smaller than 20 μm. A total of four polymer types were identified, including polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon and polyvinyl chloride. The relationship between abundance of microplastics and sediment grain size was also investigated, but no relationship was apparent. The presence of microplastics is likely due to the degradation of marine plastic debris accumulating in the mangroves.
In this study, occurrences, types and consequences of anthropogenic nesting material on American crows are investigated. 85.2% of the tested nests had anthropogenic material, such as plastic. mehr
Much attention has been paid to the impacts of plastics and other debris on marine organisms, but the effects of plastic on terrestrial organisms have been largely ignored. Detrimental effects of terrestrial plastic could be most pronounced in intensively human-modified landscapes (e.g., urban and agricultural areas), which are a source of much anthropogenic debris. Here, we examine the occurrence, types, landscape associations, and consequences of anthropogenic nest material in the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), a North American species that breeds in both urban and agricultural landscapes.
We monitored 195 nestlings in 106 nests across an urban and agricultural gradient in the Sacramento Valley, California, USA. We found that 85.2% of crow nests contained anthropogenic material, and 11 of 195 nestlings (5.6%) were entangled in their nests. The length of the material was greater in nests in agricultural territories than in urban territories, and the odds of entanglement increased 7.55 times for each meter of anthropogenic material in the nest. Fledging success was significantly lower for entangled than for unentangled nestlings. In all environments, particularly urban, agricultural, and marine, careful disposal of potential hazards (string, packing and hay bale twine, balloon ribbon, wire, fishing line) could reduce the occurrence of entanglement of nestling birds.
In this study, 230 goats and 185 sheep were examined for plastic particles in the stomach and intestines. 27.5% of the sheep and 24.3% of the goats had foreign bodies in their bodies. mehr
A total of 230 goats and 185 sheep were evaluated in this cross-sectional observational study. After emptying the gastrointestinal tract, the size, location, adhesion and obstruction were examined. Twenty seven and half percent of sheep and 24 point 3 % of goats had foreign bodies. Most foreign bodies were plastic materials in sheep and goats. Forty percent of pregnant animals had foreign bodies. Drought and lack of adequate pastures in the past years have been a major cause of the swallowing of foreign objects by sheep and goats.
This study investigates whether more additives contained in the plastic are released when aquatic life absorbs plastic parts. mehr
It is often assumed that ingestion of microplastics by aquatic species leads to increased exposure to plastic additives. However, experimental data or model based evidence is lacking. Here we assess the potential of leaching of nonylphenol (NP) and bisphenol A (BPA) in the intestinal tracts of Arenicola marina (lugworm) and Gadus morhua (North Sea cod).
We use a biodynamic model that allows calculations of the relative contribution of plastic ingestion to total exposure of aquatic species to chemicals residing in the ingested plastic. Uncertainty in the most crucial parameters is accounted for by probabilistic modeling. Our conservative analysis shows that plastic ingestion by the lugworm yields NP and BPA concentrations that stay below the lower ends of global NP and BPA concentration ranges, and therefore are not likely to constitute a relevant exposure pathway. For cod, plastic ingestion appears to be a negligible pathway for exposure to NP and BPA.
This publication deals with the transport of long-lived organic pollutants via microplastics in salt water. mehr
Microplastics represent an increasing source of anthropogenic contamination in aquatic environments, where they may also act as scavengers and transporters of persistent organic pollutants. As estuaries are amongst the most productive aquatic systems, it is important to understand sorption behaviour and transport of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by microplastics along estuarine gradients. The effects of salinity sorption equilibrium kinetics on the distribution coefficients (Kd) of phenanthrene (Phe) and 4,4′-DDT, onto polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and onto polyethylene (PE) were therefore investigated. A salinity gradient representing freshwater, estuarine and marine conditions, with salinities corresponding to 0 (MilliQ water, 690 μS/cm), 8.8, 17.5, 26.3 and 35 was used.
Salinity had no significant effect on the time required to reach equilibrium onto PVC or PE and neither did it affect desorption rates of contaminants from plastics. Although salinity had no effect on sorption capacity of Phe onto plastics, a slight decrease in sorption capacity was observed for DDT with salinity. Salinity had little effect on sorption behaviour and POP/plastic combination was shown to be a more important factor. Transport of Phe and DDT from riverine to brackish and marine waters by plastic is therefore likely to be much more dependent on the aqueous POP concentration than on salinity.
The physical characteristics of the polymer and local environmental conditions (e.g. plastic density, particle residence time in estuaries) will affect the physical transport of contaminated plastics. A transport model of POPs by microplastics under estuarine conditions is proposed. Transport of Phe and DDT by PVC and PE from fresh and brackish water toward fully marine conditions was the most likely net direction for contaminant transport and followed the order: Phe-PE >> DDT-PVC = DDT-PE >> Phe-PVC.
This article gives an overview of the previous research on biodegradation of conventional synthetic plastics. mehr
Lack of degradability and the closing of landfill sites as well as growing water and land pollution problems have led to concern about plastics. With the excessive use of plastics and increasing pressure being placed on capacities available for plastic waste disposal, the need for biodegradable plastics and biodegradation of plastic wastes has assumed increasing importance in the last few years.
Awareness of the waste problem and its impact on the environment has awakened new interest in the area of degradable polymers. The interest in environmental issues is growing and there are increasing demands to develop material which do not burden the environment significantly. Biodegradation is necessary for water-soluble or water-immiscible polymers because they eventually enter streams which can neither be recycled nor incinerated. It is important to consider the microbial degradation of natural and synthetic polymers in order to understand what is necessary for biodegradation and the mechanisms involved. This requires understanding of the interactions between materials and microorganisms and the biochemical changes involved. Widespread studies on the biodegradation of plastics have been carried out in order to overcome the environmental problems associated with synthetic plastic waste.
This paper reviews the current research on the biodegradation of biodegradable and also the conventional synthetic plastics and also use of various techniques for the analysis of degradation in vitro.