Occurrence of microplastics and its pollution in the environment: a review

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153 Citations (Scopus)


The pollution caused by microplastics in seas and fresh water is of growing environmental concern due to their slow degradability, biological ingestion by fish and other aquatic living organisms, and acting as carriers to concentrate and transport synthetic and persistent organic pollutants. As well as microplastics, chemical additives added to plastics during manufacture which may leach out upon ingestion, will enter food chains and potentially cause humans serious health problems.

Regulations in many counties/regions have been setup or to be implemented to ban the production/sale and use of primary microplastics (e.g., microbeads), which could reduce microplastics in the aquatic environment in certain level. However, the fragments from larger plastic items (second microplastics) are major contributors, and then new legislations have to be proposed and implemented in order to substantially reduce the amounts of microplastics in the environment and the associated environmental impact. Moreover, approaches and measures are to be taken by encouraging companies and all users to adopt the Reduce–Reuse–Recycle circular economy as this will represent a cost-effective way of reducing the quantity of plastic objects and microplastics particles entering and gathering in the marine/aquatic environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Early online date21 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • microplastics
  • water pollution
  • distribution and occurrence of microplastics
  • environmental effects
  • legislation
  • reduce–reuse–recycle circular economy


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