Microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment

Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine living beings

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment

Microplastics pose a serious threat to small marine living beings, which tend to feed on them, mistaking them for plankton. These minor organisms are in turn inserted into the food chain and ingested by larger living beings and their predators.

The chain can continue until it reaches our tables. Controlling the release of these plastics into the environment therefore means safeguarding marine fauna. Many marine animals such as seagulls or seals have ingested microplastics, affecting health.

Both categories of microplastics have been found to persist in the environment in large quantities, especially in marine and aquatic ecosystems. This is because plastic deforms but does not break for many years, it can be ingested and accumulated in the body and tissues of many organisms.

The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment has not yet been studied in depth, especially due to the difficulty of analyzing a mixture of various types of more or less inert plastics. In the summer of 2022, researchers from Sichuan University in China designed a robotic fish that can absorb microplastics through its body.

Also in 2022, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston developed a biodegradable silk-based system to replace added microplastics in agricultural products, paints and cosmetics.

Microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment

Current status of microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment, interaction with other pollutants, and effects on aquatic organisms, published on the Send to:
Environmental science and pollution research international, told: "Microplastics, as emerging pollutants, have received great attention in the past few decades due to its adverse effects on the environment.

Microplastics are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, soil, and water bodies, and mostly reported in aqueous environment. This paper summarizes the abundance and types of microplastics in different aqueous environments and discusses the interactions of microplastics with other contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), antibiotics, and heavy metals.

The toxicity of microplastics to aquatic organisms and microorganisms is addressed. Particularly, the combined toxic effects of microplastics and other pollutants are discussed, demonstrating either synergetic or antagonistic effects.

Future prospectives should be focused on the characterization of different types and shapes of microplastics, the standardization of microplastic units, exploring the interaction and toxicity of microplastics with other pollu tants, and the degradation of microplastics, for a better understanding of the ecological risks of microplastics."