What are the sources of microplastics?

Many studies have shown that plastics and especially microplastics are present in all environmental compartments, including sediment, soil, water column and surface layers, in marine/freshwater and terrestrialecosystems.

Plastics are ubiquitous and can stem from several sources, such as the deterioration and wear of uncontrolled plastic waste, lost and discarded materials, microfibres in fabrics, and particles arising from tyre abrasions. Primary or secondary microplastics are the main contributors to pervasive microplastic pollution, which is present in virtually all global ecosystems, regardless of human involvement.

Primary microplastics originate from several categories, including facial cleansers, cosmetics, compressed air-sprayed abrasives, medicine-produced vectors, and unprocessed plastic production pellets. However, knowledge gaps exist concerning the quantities of each category of primary microplastics released. The sewage predominantly introduces primary microplastics into wastewater treatment plants, which, in turn, discharge into the river environment. Wastewater treatment plants are inadequate in their ability to treat microplastics. For instance, two wastewater treatment plants in Adana province were found to treat only 70 per cent of microplastics.

Given that the sources of secondary microplastics are vast and varied, it is necessary to first determine the root source of macroplastics and related degradation processes in different environments if we hope to identify the precise sources of secondary microplastic pollution within the environment. Secondary microplastics contribute to pollution, both through their release into nature and from wastewater treatment plants. It is important to recognize the impact of these plastics on the environment and take measures to prevent further pollution.

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