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Abstract

Contamination by plastic debris has been documented in most regions of the world, but their occurrence in high mountain areas has not been investigated to date. Here we present the !rst report of the occurrence and amount of microplastic in any terrestrial glacier environment. In the supraglacial debris of the Forni Glacier (Italian Alps), we observed the occurrence of (mean ± standard error) 74.4 ± 28.3 items kg-1 of sediment (dry weight). This amount is within the range of variability of microplastic contamination observed in marine and coastal sediments in Europe. Most plastic items were made by polyesters, followed by polyamide, polyethylene and polypropylene. We estimated that the whole ablation area of Forni Glacier should host 131-162 million plastic items. Microplastic can be released directly into high elevation areas by human activities in the mountain or be transported by wind to high altitude. The occurrence of microplastic on Forni Glacier may be due to the gathering of debris coming from the large accumulation area into the relatively smaller ablation area of the glacier, as a consequence of its flow and melting.

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... Saturated sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions are generally used for density separation of microplastics from snow and ice samples, and H 2 O 2 solutions have been used to remove the organic matter and biofilms that are attached to the plastic surface (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Parolini et al., 2021;Peeken et al., 2018). Density separation is a particularly effective way to separate synthetic polymers from supraglacial debris or cryoconite sediments (Ambrosini et al., 2019). ...
... Saturated sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions are generally used for density separation of microplastics from snow and ice samples, and H 2 O 2 solutions have been used to remove the organic matter and biofilms that are attached to the plastic surface (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Parolini et al., 2021;Peeken et al., 2018). Density separation is a particularly effective way to separate synthetic polymers from supraglacial debris or cryoconite sediments (Ambrosini et al., 2019). ...
... Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionizationtime-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is a powerful technique that can be used in the ionization and detection of intact molecules with high molecular weights (Badía et al., 2011;Lin et al., 2020), and can also be used to identify nano-and microplastics (Wu et al., 2020). Meanwhile, TD-PTR-MS or MALDI-TOF MS measurements can report the mass concentrations of polymers (Ambrosini et al., 2019) that may be affecting the Earth's carbon cycle as emergent components (Stubbins et al., 2021). All the above methods involve the thermal desorption analysis of microplastics and are destructive to the plastic particles. ...
Article
The cryosphere is the term used to describe the frozen areas of the Earth, including all forms of snow and ice, which are primarily influenced by anthropogenic pollutants through atmospheric transport. In this review, we described the current status of newly emergent pollutant-microplastics-in the snow and ice of typical cryospheric regions (e.g., Arctic, Antarctic, Alps, Tibetan Plateau, and Andes), discussed their transport pathways, and provided perspectives for future research. A brief summary of snow and ice sampling, pretreatment, and the identification of microplastics in cryospheric regions suggests that standard procedures are inadequate and urgently require improvement. Microplastics are widely distributed in snow and ice across the typical cryospheric regions, indicating the ubiquitous distribution of microplastics in such environments. However, the abundance, size distribution, shape, and polymer composition of the microplastics in snow and ice show significant differences. Sea ice is especially important for the temporal storage, transport, and release of microplastics in the Arctic and Antarctic. Microplastics in land snow cover and mountain glaciers emphasize the importance of atmospheric transport in the transferal of microplastics to cryospheric regions. In particular, the non-polar cryospheric regions (e.g., Tibetan Plateau, Andes, or Alps) are highlighted as important receptors of mid-latitude emissions of microplastics, which might indicate a future climatic risk considering the ability of microplastics to absorb radiation and accelerate the melting of snow. Microplastics retrieved from mountain glacier ice cores may also provide new insights into the historical variation in anthropogenic pollutants. The potential impact of microplastics in snow and ice on the carbon cycle and the climatic risk needs to be further addressed in the future.
... Irrespective of their origin, many MPs are present in natural ecosystems. MPs are reportedly ubiquitous in different ecosystems, for instance, soil (Scheurer and Bigalke, 2018;, sub-surface systems (Lusher et al., 2014;, groundwater (Mintenig et al., 2019;Kumar and Sharma, 2021a), atmosphere González-Pleiter et al., 2021), wetlands (Paduani, 2020;Qian et al., 2021), rivers (Tibbetts et al., 2018;van Emmerik and Schwarz, 2020;Kumar and Sharma, 2021a;Singh et al., 2021;Kumar et al., 2021), remote mountain (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Napper et al., 2020;Pastorino et al., 2021;Stefánsson et al., 2021), and marine Amelia et al., 2021), in different shape, size, and polymeric composition, considering their source, degradation, residing time and eroding process (Cai et al., 2017;Allen et al., 2019). Generally, MPs are land-based hazardous materials, and are present in industries, households, agriculture, wastewater treatment plants. ...
... Therefore, the atmospheric transport of MPs is a potential pathway for their abundance and distribution in remote areas. Because of this atmospheric transport and deposition, MPs have currently reached remotely located ecosystems, such as polar regions of the Arctic Ocean (Lusher et al., 2014;Obbard et al., 2014), deep-sea and sea surfaces of the Arctic (Lusher et al., 2014) and Mediterranean Sea (Cózar et al., 2015;Suaria et al., 2016), glaciers (Ambrosini et al., 2019), and planetary boundaries (González-Pleiter et al., 2021). MPs can potentially alter the structure, light absorption, and other properties of glaciers . ...
... As MPs are trapped in snow sediments in high mountain regions, these MPs can reside on glaciers for an unlimited time. They are released when glaciers melt, thereby contaminating freshwater reservoirs and marine systems (Ambrosini et al., 2019). Supraglacial debris are mostly rich in MPs that are deposited by air or snow (Pittino et al., 2018), and the flow of these glaciers transport the embedded MPs and other contaminants down the valley, which accumulates downstream in rivers or lakes (Nakawo et al., 1986). ...
Article
Microplastic (MP) pollution is a critical environmental concern that exists within different mountain ecosystem compartments. This review paper highlights the source, sampling, distribution, and behavior of MPs in mountain terrains and foothills. Atmospheric transport and tourism are major sources of MP pollution in mountain ecosystems. Snow samples provide the maximum concentration of MPs compared to that of stream or ice core samples. Precipitation events considerably influence MP deposition and fallout in mountains and glaciers. PE, PP, PS, polyester, and PVC are common plastic polymers with diverse shapes, such as fibers, fragments, films, and pellets. Ecological concerns and stress due to MP accumulated in natural ecosystems have also been discussed, with considerable focus on MP transport and distribution dynamics at higher altitudes as prospects for future research. A remarkable knowledge gap was observed regarding the MP pathways in the mountainous ecosystems and the assessment of microplastic-associated additives, such as heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, including the evidence of nano-sized plastics. Furthermore, studies on the ecological and biological risks posed by MPs on remote mountains is severely limited with respect to global climate change, biodiversity loss, and influence on ecosystem services.
... Small-sized plastics refer as contaminants to the environment because of their magnitude of complexity, diversity, and persistence (Coffin et al., 2021). Public and scientific communities are aware and concerned about the consequences of ubiquitous presence in different environmental compartments, such as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (Tibbetts et al., 2018;Kumar et al., 2021b;Singh et al., 2022), atmospheric air (Zhang et al., 2020c;González-Pleiter et al., 2021), mountains foothills and terrains (Sighicelli et al., 2018;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Padha et al., 2021;Pastorino et al., 2021), glaciers (Yao et al., 2012;Chen et al., 2017;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Cabrera et al., 2020), and snow (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Bergmann et al., 2019;Napper et al., 2020). Freshwater ecosystems, like lakes and rivers, also receive plenty of plastics directly from wastewater treatment plants (Eriksen et al., 2013;Estahbanati and Fahrenfeld, 2016), manufacturing units, landfill operations, household activities, etc., which substantially contaminate freshwater environs (Browne et al., 2011), and deposited of in oceans. ...
... Small-sized plastics refer as contaminants to the environment because of their magnitude of complexity, diversity, and persistence (Coffin et al., 2021). Public and scientific communities are aware and concerned about the consequences of ubiquitous presence in different environmental compartments, such as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (Tibbetts et al., 2018;Kumar et al., 2021b;Singh et al., 2022), atmospheric air (Zhang et al., 2020c;González-Pleiter et al., 2021), mountains foothills and terrains (Sighicelli et al., 2018;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Padha et al., 2021;Pastorino et al., 2021), glaciers (Yao et al., 2012;Chen et al., 2017;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Cabrera et al., 2020), and snow (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Bergmann et al., 2019;Napper et al., 2020). Freshwater ecosystems, like lakes and rivers, also receive plenty of plastics directly from wastewater treatment plants (Eriksen et al., 2013;Estahbanati and Fahrenfeld, 2016), manufacturing units, landfill operations, household activities, etc., which substantially contaminate freshwater environs (Browne et al., 2011), and deposited of in oceans. ...
... Small-sized plastics refer as contaminants to the environment because of their magnitude of complexity, diversity, and persistence (Coffin et al., 2021). Public and scientific communities are aware and concerned about the consequences of ubiquitous presence in different environmental compartments, such as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (Tibbetts et al., 2018;Kumar et al., 2021b;Singh et al., 2022), atmospheric air (Zhang et al., 2020c;González-Pleiter et al., 2021), mountains foothills and terrains (Sighicelli et al., 2018;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Padha et al., 2021;Pastorino et al., 2021), glaciers (Yao et al., 2012;Chen et al., 2017;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Cabrera et al., 2020), and snow (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Bergmann et al., 2019;Napper et al., 2020). Freshwater ecosystems, like lakes and rivers, also receive plenty of plastics directly from wastewater treatment plants (Eriksen et al., 2013;Estahbanati and Fahrenfeld, 2016), manufacturing units, landfill operations, household activities, etc., which substantially contaminate freshwater environs (Browne et al., 2011), and deposited of in oceans. ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are key indicators of the plasticine era, widely spread across different ecosystems. MPs and NPs become global stressors due to their inherent physicochemical characteristics and potential impact on ecosystems and humans. MPs and NPs have been exposed to humans via various pathways, such as tap water, bottled water, seafood, beverages, milk, fish, salts, fruits, and vegetables. This paper highlights MPs and NPs pathways to the food chains and how these plastic particles can cause risks to human health. MPs have been evident in vivo and vitro and have been at health risks, such as respiratory, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems. The present work emphasizes how various MPs and NPs, and associated toxic chemicals, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), impact human health. Polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are common MPs and NPs, reported in human implants via ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure, which can cause carcinogenesis, according to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports. Inhalation, ingestion, and dermal exposure-response cause genotoxicity, cell division and viability, cytotoxicity, oxidative stress induction, metabolism disruption, DNA damage, inflammation, and immunological responses in humans. Lastly, this review work concluded with current knowledge on potential risks to human health and knowledge gaps with recommendations for further investigation in this field.
... In addition, it was hypothetically affirmed that, rainfall is a noteworthy factor contributing to MPs pollution within inland water bodies (Xia et al., 2020). In Italian Alp, Ambrosini et al. (2019) indicated that, wet and dry deposition may be part of the sources for tiny plastics identified in supragracial debris. MPs' contaminating an estuary of Australian Cooks river, were reported to increase during storm events compared to other periods (Hitchcock, 2020). ...
... Abbasi et al. (2017) and Akhbarizadeh et al. (2021) utilized 35 ml and 25 ml of 30% H 2 O 2 respectively, for the removal of organic material from the samples. Ambrosini et al. (2019), utilized a 15% H 2 O 2 solution for screening organic debris from the sample. Lately, MPs studies have suggested Fenton's reagent (a mixture of H 2 O 2 and ferrous ions, Fe 2+ ) as an efficient tool for isolating MPs from samples (Hurley et al., 2018;Prata et al., 2019). ...
... Using μ-ATR-FTIR, Szewc et al. (2021) managed to identify MPs present in atmospheric samples. It was also possible to analyze (Edo et al., 2021), conduct chemical characterization (Ambrosini et al., 2019), and identify polymer type (Liu et al., 2019c) for MPs of atmospheric origin using Micro-FTIR (μ-FTIR). ...
Article
Micro-sized plastics were first examined for atmospheric environment in 2016. From then on, they have been detected in both indoor and outdoor atmospheric samples, with indoor environments demonstrated as containing a big proportion of these particles. The sparse distribution of these particles, is attributed to their swift and long distance transportation that is mainly eased by their tiny size (1 μm to 5 mm) and low density. Due to ongoing limitation on detectable size, analysis methods together with a lack of standardized sampling and analytical procedures, few studies were conducted on airborne microplastics (MPs). Thus, the facts regarding the occurrence, global spatial distribution, fate, and threats to ecosystem and human health of airborne MPs, are still far from being fully clarified. This literature review is a broad depiction of a state of knowledge on atmospheric MPs. Within it, robust and concise information on the sources, inspection, transport, and threats pertaining to airborne MPs are presented. Particularly, the paper entails some information concerning traffic-generated MPs pollution, which has not been frequently discussed within previously published reports. In addition, this paper has widely unveiled sectors and aspects in need of further attention, with the gaps to be filled pinpointed.
... Larger volumes of snow (≥ 10 L) or replicates from the same study sites would be beneficial for future research. Our reported concentrations of microplastics in surface snow near two Antarctic stations (47.2 ± 8.4 particles L −1 ; highest concentration 82.1 particles L −1 ) identified similar concentrations to those present in supraglacial debris from an Italian glacier (74 particles kg −1 dry weight) (Ambrosini et al., 2019). For comparison, concentrations of microplastics in Arctic sea ice have been shown to range from 8 to 41 particles L −1 (Geilfus et al., 2019), while Arctic snow sampling identified higher concentrations of microplastics of up to 14.4 × 10 3 particles L −1 (Bergmann et al., 2019), which may be attributed to the proximity to more populated regions. ...
... Further research is required to understand the microplastic footprint in the region. Similar to previous studies, we identified darker colours (blue, black and navy) as the most common (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Liu et al., 2019a, b). Dark-coloured microplastics are likely efficient at absorbing solar radiation compared to lighter colours and are of particular concern in the cryosphere as they may accelerate melting (Evangeliou et al., 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, airborne microplastics have been identified in a range of remote environments. However, data throughout the Southern Hemisphere, in particular Antarctica, are largely absent to date. We collected snow samples from 19 sites across the Ross Island region of Antarctica. Suspected microplastic particles were isolated and their composition confirmed using micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (µFTIR). We identified microplastics in all Antarctic snow samples at an average concentration of 29 particles L−1, with fibres the most common morphotype and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) the most common polymer. To investigate sources, backward air mass trajectories were run from the time of sampling. These indicate potential long-range transportation of up to 6000 km, assuming a residence time of 6.5 d. Local sources were also identified as potential inputs into the environment as the polymers identified were consistent with those used in clothing and equipment from nearby research stations. This study adds to the growing body of literature regarding microplastics as a ubiquitous airborne pollutant and establishes their presence in Antarctica.
... MNPs' pollution is a major contributor to one of the most pervasive and long-term anthropogenic changes transpired to the earth's terrestrial habitat. Consequently, overwhelming evidence of direct and indirect deleterious effects of MNPs' pollution on various terrestrial habitats has emerged in recent years (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2020a;Chen et al., 2020b;Yakushev et al., 2021). It is important to note that majority of the plastic wastes that end up in water bodies were initially produced, used, and indiscriminately discarded on land (de Souza Machado et al., 2018). ...
... Microplastics and nanoplastic have also been noted in the interactive dynamic and thermodynamic processes occurring between the atmosphere and the other environmental interfaces. For example, in a recent investigation, the supraglacial debris of the Forni Glacier (Italian Alps) reportedly contained 74.4 ± 28.3 MNPs/kg of dry weight sediments (Ambrosini et al., 2019). Other studies have also reported the presence of MNPs in fresh falling snow in Canada (21,900 ng/l) and Austria (23,600 ng/l; Materić et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2021b). ...
Article
Full-text available
A rise in the industrial applications of plastic microbeads, as well as the fragmentation of plastic debris, have led to the widespread distribution of miniaturised plastic particles across different environments. These miniaturised plastic particles include microplastics (100 nm - 5 mm) and nanoplastics (less than 100 nm). Their increasing occurrence and adverse effects on various ecosystems including freshwater, marine, terrestrial and the atmosphere have attracted global attention over the past decade. One of the major concerns is their ingestion by lower organisms as well as their potential transfer along various food chains. In addition, microplastics and nanoplastics also release toxic plastic additives and can adsorb various toxins and toxicants thereby serving as sinks for various poisonous compounds, enhancing their bioavailability, toxicity, and transportation. Microplastics and\nanoplastics have however been noted to display different properties from their corresponding bulk materials, hence, the need to specifically understand their biological and ecological implications. Thus, this paper elucidates the properties, sources, and damaging effects of microplastics and nanoplastics on different habitats, with a major focus on the biotic components. Similarly, the consequent detrimental effects of these particles on humans as well as the current and future efforts at mitigating these detrimental effects were discussed. Finally, the self-cleaning efforts of the planet via a range of saprophytic organisms on these synthetic particles were also highlighted.
... Jahan et al., 2019;Zhou et al., 2019), but also in remote areas such as glaciers, mountains, Antarctica, or forests, being them extremely mobile (e.g. Ambrosini et al., 2019;Cabrera et al., 2020;Cincinelli et al., 2017;Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2013;Zhang et al., 2021). However, MP pollution in caves and karst aquifers is still largely unknown (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic particles are a global problem, which has been widely found in marine and terrestrial environments. However, microplastic pollution in caves and karst aquifers is still poorly studied. To improve the current knowledge of microplastic pollution, we investigated the sediments of a show cave in Italy. We developed a methodology based on a cave-adapted version of the methods used in several studies to detect microplastics from sediments of different environments and with various laboratory tests. The microplastics were extracted from sediments via density separation and subjected to organic matter removal. Filters were observed with and without UV light under a microscope, before and after organic matter removal, and the microplastics were characterised according to shape, colour, and size, with visual identification. About 55% of the fibres observed under the microscope on filters were removed via organic matter removal. An average of 4390 items/kg dry weight was calculated for the touristic zone and 1600 items/kg dry weight for the speleological/research section. Fibre (84.9%) was the most abundant shape, and most microplastics were smaller than 1 mm, accounting for 85.4%, of which 58.4% were shorter than 0.5 mm. The highest microplastic abundance was fluorescent under UV light (87.7%); however, 12.3% of the microplastics observed on filters were not fluorescent. Most fluorescent fibres were transparent (84%), whereas blue (46.1%) and black (22.4%) fibres were more common for the non-fluorescent ones. Our results highlight the presence of microplastics in show caves, and we provide a valid non-invasive and non-expensive analytical technique for the preparation and isolation of microplastics from cave sediments, giving useful information for evaluating the environmental risks posed by microplastics in show caves.
... Another simulation study showed that about 30% of microplastics produced by road traffic could be transported to the world ocean through atmosphere (Evangeliou et al., 2020). Microplastics were found in atmospheric deposition samples from the Alps and the Tibetan glaciers (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2019). Water and soil are the final fate of atmospheric microplastics through deposition (Liu et al., 2019b;Yang et al., 2021). ...
Article
Full-text available
The deposition is an important process of microplastics transporting from atmosphere to water and soil. But the spatial and temporal distribution of microplastics in urban atmospheric deposition and its influencing factors are poorly understood. The current study investigated the possible sources, spatial and temporal distribution, and potential ecological risk of microplastics in deposition from the valley basin of Lanzhou city during the COVID-19 pandemic (from February to August, 2020). The deposition flux of microplastics was 353.83 n m−2 d−1. Most plastic samples were small sized (50~500 µm) and transparent. The dominant chemical composition and shapes were PET, fragments and fibers, respectively. A modified method was conducted to identify the sources of microplastics, and the local sources were suggested as the main possible sources. The distribution of microplastics investigated through the inverse distance weight interpolation showed spatial variation and temporal differentiation which was dominated by the human activity. The rainfall also affected the temporal distribution. The preliminary assessment indicated higher potential ecological risk of microplastics in deposition. This study suggested the dominant effect of human activity on the source and distribution of atmospheric microplastic deposition in city.
... It was assumed that all plastic flowed and became trapped in the oceans, the oceans forming the final sink for plastic pollution (Coleman & Wehle, 1984;Thompson et al., 2004). However, MnP research has progressed rapidly through recent discoveries in freshwater (Wagner et al., 2014;Koelmans et al., 2019), groundwater (Chia et al., 2021;Samandra et al., 2022), snow (Bergmann et al., 2019;Materić et al., 2020;Parolini et al., 2021), ice (Bergmann et al., 2016;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Kelly et al., 2020), soil (D. Rillig et al., 2017a;Wahl et al., 2021;Wang et al., 2020), sediment (Bergmann et al., 2017;M. ...
Article
Full-text available
The last decade has been transformative for micro(nano)plastic (MnP) research with recent discoveries revealing the extent and magnitude of MnP pollution, even in the world’s most remote places. Historically, while researchers recognized that most plastic pollution was derived from land-based sources, it was generally believed that microplastic particles (i.e., plastic fragments <5 mm) was only a marine pollution issue with effects largely impacting marine biota. However, over the last decade MnP research has progressed rapidly with recent discoveries of MnPs in freshwater, snow, ice, soil, terrestrial biota, air and even found in ocean spray. MnPs have now been found in every environmental compartment on earth, within tissues and gastrointestinal tracts of thousands of species, including humans, resulting in harmful effects. The last 10 years has also seen the development of new techniques for MnP analysis, and re-purposing of old technologies allowing us to determine the extent and magnitude of plastic pollution down to the nano size range (<1 µm). This short review summarizes what key milestones and major advances have been made in microplastic and nanoplastic research in the environment, including their sources, fate, and effects over the last decade.
... Microplastics can readily reach isolated ecosystems and propagate into terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems [44] . Through atmospheric transport and deposition, MPs have been found in such remote ecosystems as the polar regions of the Arctic [37] , the deepsea environment [45] , sea surfaces [46] , and glaciers [47][48][49] . ...
Article
Full-text available
As a key component of mountain ecosystems, high-mountain lakes are recognized indicators of global change. In the analysis of the effects induced by local or global human activities, microplastic (MP) pollution is of critical environmental concern for mountain ecosystem compartments and for high-mountain lakes in particular. This minireview reports on current knowledge of MP occurrence, source, distribution, and characteristics in high-mountain lake ecosystems. The literature search returned only nine studies mainly from the Tibet plateau (China). Generally, the two most often investigated compartments were water and sediment, followed by snow and fish. Plastic particles were found as fragments and fibers of polypropylene and polyethylene, which are primarily utilized in food packaging and supplies brought by tourists and then discarded on site. Tourism and atmospheric long-range transport from lowlands were identified as the main sources of MP pollution. Precipitation events (snow and rain) were reported as key events in MP deposition and fallout. Further studies are needed to better understand the effects of MP pollution on aquatic food webs and ecosystem resources (e.g., drinking water) in these key ecosystems.
... Consequently, the growing interest of the scientific community on MPs has been mainly focused on the marine environment (SAPEA, 2019;GESAMP report, 2015GESAMP report, , 2017. However, MPs have been found in several environmental compartments, e.g. in inland freshwater (Wagner and Lambert, 2018), in the Alp and Tibetan glaciers (Zhang et al., 2021;Ambrosini et al., 2019), in the Antarctic (Waller et al., 2017), in seafloor and sediments (Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2015) and in the air (Gasperi et al., 2018;Dris et al., 2016). ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) pollution is one of the most important problems of the Earth. They have been found in all the natural environments, including oceans and the atmosphere. In this study, the concentrations of both atmospheric and marine MPs were measured over the Baltic along a research cruise that started in the Gdansk harbour, till the Gotland island, and the way back. A deposition box (based on a combination of active/passive sampling) was used to collect airborne MPs while, marine MPs concentrations were investigated during the cruise using a dedicated net. Ancillary data were obtained using a combination of particle counters (OPC, LAS and CPC), Aethalometer (AE33 Magee Scientific), spectrofluorometer (sea surface samples, Varian Cary Eclipse), and meteorological sensors. Results showed airborne microplastics average concentrations higher in the Gdansk harbour (161 ± 75 m⁻³) compared to the open Baltic Sea and to the Gotland island (24 ± 9 and 45 ± 20 m⁻³). These latter values are closer to the ones measured in the sea (79 ± 18 m⁻³). The MPs composition was investigated using μ-Raman (for the airborne ones) and FTIR (for marine ones); similar results (e.g. polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalates, polyurethane, polystyrene) were found in the two environmental compartments. The concentrations and similar composition in air and sea suggested a linkage between the two compartments. For this purpose, the atmospheric MPs' equivalent aerodynamic diameter was calculated (28 ± 3 μm) first showing the capability of atmospheric MPs to remain suspended in the air. At the same time, the computed turnover times (0.3–90 h; depending on MPs size) limited the transport distance range. The estimated MPs sea emission fluxes (4–18 ∗ 10⁶ μm³ m⁻² s⁻¹ range) finally showed the contemporary presence of atmospheric transport together with a continuous emission from the sea surface enabling a grasshopper long-range transport of microplastics across the sea.
... Both macroplastics (>5 mm) and microplastics (1µm < x < 5 mm) are of great concern, as they can spread and be ingested by organisms. Microplastics have, amongst other, been detected in deep sea organisms (Pereira et al., 2020), in remote mountainous areas (Ambrosini et al., 2019), fish (Sequeira et al., 2020), bottled water for human consumption (Welle and Franz, 2018), and human stool (Schwabl et al., 2019). Plastics are considered a ubiquitous pollutant in the oceans (Eriksen et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the occurrence of microplastics (size range 5,000-50 µm) in leachates at 11 landfills of different age and operational status in Finland, Iceland and Norway. Collective sampling was carried out by pumping leachate with a stainless-steel submergible pump through a custom-made, stainless-steel filter unit containing filter plates with decreasing pore sizes (5,000, 417 and 47 µm, respectively). Samples were pre-treated and split into particles size classes above 500 μm and above 50 μm, and screened for occurrence of microplastics made of PE, PP, PVC, PS, PET, PA, PU, PC, PMMA, POM, SBR (rubber) or PMB (polymer modified bitumen). Samples were analysed by FT-IR spectroscopy, both to identify and to count microplastic particles (SBR and PMB were merely identified). Most samples tested positive for multiple microplastics. Three leachates, including drinking water (blank), tested positive for SBR particles and/or PMB only. Treated leachate samples exhibited lower total microplastic’s counts than untreated, up to several orders of magnitude. National waste management practices over time, landfill age or operational status do not seem to explain differences in microplastic abundance or counts between leachates. Particle count and calculated loads of microplastic emissions through leachates differed several orders of magnitude between landfills. Results indicate that landfill leachates might be a relatively small source of microplastics (>50 µm) to surface waters compared to untreated and treated sewage or road runoff. Continued data acquisition, improved sample preparation and understanding of variability of microplastics in landfill leachate are necessary, including particles smaller than 50 µm.
... Further research is required to understand the microplastic footprint in the region. Similar to previous studies, we identified darker colours (blue, black and navy) as the most common (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Liu et al., 2019a, b). Dark-coloured microplastics are likely efficient at absorbing solar radiation compared to lighter colours and are of particular concern in the cryosphere as they may accelerate melting (Evangeliou et al., 2020). ...
Preprint
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In recent years, airborne microplastics have been identified in a range of remote environments. However, data throughout the Southern Hemisphere, in particular Antarctica, are largely absent to date. We collected snow samples from 19 sites across the Ross Island region of Antarctica. Suspected microplastic particles were isolated and their composition confirmed using micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (μFTIR).We identified microplastics in all Antarctic snow samples at an average concentration of 29 particles L−1, with fibres the most common morphotype and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) the most common polymer. To investigate sources, backward air mass trajectories were run from the time of sampling. These indicate potential long-range transportation of up to 6000 kilometers, assuming a residence time of 6.5 days. Local sources were also identified as potential inputs into the environment, as the polymers identified were consistent with those used in clothing and equipment from nearby research stations. This study adds to the growing body of literature regarding microplastics as a ubiquitous airborne pollutant, and establishes their presence in Antarctica.
... Due to its dark colour, cryoconite reduces the albedo of glacier ice and facilitates formation of cryoconite holes that are glacial biodiversity hotspots and efficient accumulators of contaminants on glaciers (Buda et al., 2020;Clason et al., 2021;Łokas et al., 2016Owens et al., 2019;Rozwalak et al., 2022). Indeed, studies on glacier contamination have brought surprising results showing that cryoconite is heavily contaminated with many classes of anthropogenic substances, including heavy metals, pesticides, black carbon, microplastics, antibiotics and also artificial radionuclides (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Ferrario et al., 2017b;Hauptmann et al., 2017;Łokas et al., 2016Makowska et al., 2020;Zhang et al., 2021). Radioactivity levels in the cryoconite were found to greatly exceed the concentrations of fallout radionuclides (FRNs) detected in other terrestrial contexts (Baccolo et al., , 2020aŁokas et al., 2016Owens et al., 2019). ...
Article
This study is a first survey of the occurrence of artificial (137Cs, 241Am, 207Bi, Pu isotopes) and natural (210Pb, 228Ac, 214Bi, 40K) radionuclides in Norwegian cryoconite. Cryoconite samples were collected before (12 samples) and after (5 samples) a rainfall event, after which 7 cryoconite holes dissapeared. The concentrations of radionuclides in cryoconite samples from the Blåisen Glacier are compared with data from the Arctic and Alpine glaciers. Cryoconite samples from the studied glacier had extremely high activity concentrations of 137Cs, 241Am, 207Bi and 239+240Pu (up to 25,000 Bq/kg, 58 Bq/kg, 13 Bq/kg and 131 Bq/kg, respectively) and also high concentrations of organic matter (OM), comparing to other Scandinavian and Arctic glaciers, reaching up to ~40% of total mass. The outstandingly high concentrations of 137Cs, 241Am, Pu isotopes, and 207Bi on the Blåisen Glacier are primarily related to bioaccumulation of radionuclides in organic-rich cryoconite and might be enhanced by additional transfers of contamination from the tundra by lemmings during their population peaks. The presumed influence of intense rainfall on radionuclide concentrations in the cryoconite was not confirmed.
... Preliminary research suggests outdoor recreation (eg. hiking, trail running, mountain biking and climbing) are a source of microplastics in wilderness and conservation areas, due to abrasion and fragmentation of clothing, shoes, mountain bike tires, climbing rope and litter (Ambrosini et al., 2019;Barrows et al., 2018;Napper et al., 2020;Parolini et al., 2021). The amounts and properties of microplastics is likely to depend on multiple factors, including type of recreation, footwear and textile design and composition, season, visitor rates, and sampling location. ...
Article
Hiking and trail running are increasingly popular and could present a significant source of microplastics on recreational trails in nature reserves, wilderness areas and conservation areas. Deposition may be concentrated on trail surfaces, however sampling techniques for microplastics on soil or rock surfaces have not yet been developed. In this study, sampling strategies were evaluated for microplastics on three types of recreational trail surfaces - asphalt, compacted soil, and a loose overlay of soil. We spiked trail surfaces with pink rubber microplastics and collected samples using a handheld vacuum, manual sweeping, and gel lifter tape. Spiked and in situ microplastics were extracted from soil samples using density separation (NaI, ρ = 1.6 g cm⁻³) with organic matter digestion (30% H2O2), then visualised and counted using stereomicroscopy. The gel lifter tape yielded the highest recovery of spiked and counts of in situ microplastics on asphalt (118% ± 15%, 3183 ± 830 microplastics per 40 cm²) and compacted soil (127% ± 7%, 333 ± 106 microplastics per 40 cm²). Sweeping produced quantitative recovery for spiked microplastics on compacted soil (88% ± 13%) but yielded significantly fewer in situ microplastics (148 ± 40 microplastics per 40 cm²) than the tape. Sweeping was the only technique to achieve quantitative recovery of spiked microplastics in the loose overlay of soil (110% ± 14%) when soil carbon was 0.8% ± 0.3%, however increasing soil carbon was associated with reduced microplastic recovery. Preliminary assessment indicated quantification of microplastics smaller than 100 μm was not possible with any of the methods tested. Sweeping and the gel lifter tape were both effective for evaluating microplastic deposition and spatial distribution on recreational trails, depending on the properties of the trail.
... MPs suspended in the atmosphere can be easily transported by wind, resulting in the advection of MPs from urban to rural and even to remote mountain and open-ocean areas where primary MP sources are negligible. 38,41,42 A decline of airborne MP concentrations from the city center to the coastal region was previously observed in Shanghai. 16 The pooled-average concentration of airborne MPs in all urban samples was significantly higher than that for samples collected in the urban−rural fringe of this study. ...
... MP polymer types included polyester (39%), polyethylene (9%), polyamide (9%), and polypropylene (4%). Fibers accounted for 65.2%, and fragments accounted for 34.8% [52]. It can be seen that remote areas may also have high concentrations of atmospheric MPs and there are great differences in the concentrations and types among different regions. ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs) (including nanoplastics (NPs)) are pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm in size. They are produced by the crushing and decomposition of large waste plastics and widely distributed in all kinds of ecological environments and even in organisms, so they have been paid much attention by the public and scientific community. Previously, several studies have reviewed the sources, occurrence, distribution, and toxicity of MPs in water and soil. By comparison, the review of atmospheric MPs is inadequate. In particular, there are still significant gaps in the quantitative analysis of MPs and the mechanisms associated with the toxic effects of inhaled MPs. Thus, this review summarizes and analyzes the distribution, source, and fate of atmospheric MPs and related influencing factors. The potential toxic effects of atmospheric MPs on animals and humans are also reviewed in depth. In addition, the common sampling and analysis methods used in existing studies are introduced. The aim of this paper is to put forward some feasible suggestions on the research direction of atmospheric MPs in the future.
... However, a recent study of atmospheric contamination of glacial ice shed some light on the potential contribution of atmospheric deposition. Ambrosini et al. (2019) found 74 ± 28 microplastics kg −1 of supraglacial sediments found on the glacier surface, which indicate a baseline level of contamination for that region. Further research is required to quantify the rates of deposition across different spatial and temporal scales. ...
Chapter
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In recent years, the focus of microplastic research has begun to observe a shift from the marine towards terrestrial and freshwater environments. This is in response to a greater awareness of the predominance of land-based sources in marine microplastic contamination. In this regard, terrestrial and freshwater environments are often perceived as conduits for microplastic particles to the oceans, but this overlooks substantial and important complexities associated with these systems , as well as the need to protect these ecosystems in their own right. This chapter focuses on several critical sources and pathways deemed to be highly important for the release of microplastics to the environment. These include road-associated microplastic particles (RAMP) and emissions related to agriculture that are, thus far, under-researched. Transfers and accumulations of particles within terrestrial and freshwater systems are also reviewed, including the state of knowledge on the occurrence of microplastics in different environmental compartments (air, water, sediments, biota). Methodological constraints are addressed, with particular focus on the need for greater harmonisation along all stages of sampling, analysis, and data handling. Finally, the chapter discusses the ultimate fate of particles released to terrestrial and freshwater environments and highlights critical research gaps that should be addressed to evolve our understanding of microplastic contamination in complex and dynamic environmental systems.
... If introduced to the environment, e.g., as litter, it can be assumed that most items made from biodegradable plastic materials have similar pathways and sinks as conventional non-biodegradable plastic items. Plastic pollution is found almost anywhere in nature it has been looked for, including air (e.g., Dris et al., 2016), highmountain and polar ice (e.g., Ambrosini et al., 2019;Kanhai et al., 2020), terrestrial soil (e.g., review by Helmberger et al., 2019), freshwater (e.g., Wagner et al., 2014) and marine systems (e.g., Weber et al., 2015; Figure 2 and references therein) with effects on ecosystem level, organism level and on humans still to be fully understood. ...
... During the precipitation process, rainfall and snowfall may be positive drivers in MPs deposition (Zhang et al., 2020b). Due to the possibility of long-distance transportation, MPs from atmospheric propagation were an important source for urban regions (Wright et al., 2020), marine environment (Auta et al., 2017;Liu et al., 2019a), and remote areas (Zhang et al., 2019c;Evangeliou et al., 2020) including mountain catchment (Allen et al., 2019), Arctic ocean , Alpine glacier (Ambrosini et al., 2019), and even the world's highest plateau, Tibetan Plateau (Zhang et al., 2016). ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) are emerging and recalcitrant micropollutants in the environment, which have attracted soaring interests from a wide range of research disciplines. To this end, numerous technologies have been devised to understand the properties, environmental behaviors, and potential impacts/hazards of MPs. Herein, we present a review on the properties, environmental distribution and possible impacts. In this review, a comprehensive introduction of the most universal types of MPs, their shapes and characters will be first presented. Then the distributions of MPs in the environment and the impacts on microbe, plants, and human will be reported. Finally, major challenges and directions will be discussed to provide some clues to the better understanding, control and migration of MPs pollution in future studies.
... Research has only recently started to focus on terrestrial ecosystems after decades of scrutinizing the fate and impact of plastics on marine and freshwater ecosystems. Microplastics have been found in floodplain soils (Scheurer & Bigalke 2018), agricultural soils (Rillig et al. 2017), forests (Choi et al. 2020), and glaciers (Ambrosini et al. 2019). The range of ecosystems in which these particles are found indicates that micro-and nanoplastics can be transported by wind (Rezaei et al. 2019), and are therefore likely to also contaminate forest ecosystems. ...
... Microplastic was firstly proposed as a marine environmental problem, but with its widespread occurrence in freshwater and estuary [1][2][3], land and mountains [4,5], and in glaciers and polar regions [6,7], microplastic pollution has become a global health issue and aroused some debates among scientists [8][9][10]. Recently, the pervasiveness of microplastics has also been verified in both indoor and outdoor air environments [11], and the human body burden of microplastics through inhalation (0−3.0) ...
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Background Microplastic pollution has become a serious global environmental threat. The abundance of microplastics in the air is an order of magnitude higher than that in other media, which means that all living animals breathing with lungs (including humans) cannot escape the fate of inhaling microplastics. However, there is no direct evidence to demonstrate what type and abundance of microplastics exist in lung tissue. In addition, whether the retention of microplastics and the long-term friction between microplastics and lung tissue are related to some respiratory diseases is largely unknown. Ground glass nodules (GGNs) are areas of lesions of homogeneous density and with hazy increase in density in the lung field that do not obscure the bronchovascular structure, which have been increasingly identified in past decades. Although their etiology is broad, the correlation of microplastics with GGNs remains elusive. Results In this study, we identified the presence of 65 microfibers, including 24 microplastics (> 20 μm) in 100 human lung tissues with μ-FTIR. The detection rate of microfibers in tumor was 58%, higher than that in normal tissue (46%), and 2/3 of microplastics were found in tumor. Microfibers seemed to be embedded in lung tissues, which was suggested by the in situ observation via LDIR. Additionally, sub-micron-sized plastic particles were also detected in some lung tissues with Raman. The abundance of microfibers in lung tissue gradually accumulated with the increase of age. Moreover, the detection rate in tumor of patients with higher microfiber exposure risk history was significantly higher than those with a relatively lower one, implying microfiber inhalation could be related to the formation of GGN. Further, serious weared surface of microfibers isolated from lung tissue emphasized a possible link of surface roughness to the disease progression. Conclusions Collectively, the existence of microplastics in human lung tissues was validated, and their correlation with GGN formation was preliminarily explored, which laid a foundation for future research on microplastic exposure in the etiology of lung cancer and other related respiratory diseases. Graphical Abstract
... In the Antarctic, plastic pollution in a glacier was also reported and they were likely deposited by wind transport (Gonzalez-Pleiter et al., 2021). Meanwhile, the first study of microplastics from glaciers preliminarily proved that microplastic contaminated the surface of alpine glaciers (Ambrosini et al., 2019). Further, microplastic was also detected in the Tibetan glaciers . ...
Article
The rapid development of modern society has largely increased the usage of plastic. Concerns arise when vast amount of plastic waste has been generated and disposed. The accumulated evidences suggest that plastic waste in all the natural matrixes has become a global contaminant, principles such as geological and biogeochemical cycles for plastic pollution have been proposed. Before a full estimation of plastic mass flow, however, the pathways, directions and influences involved in plastic transportation are warranted to be addressed. We made this critical review based on the quantitative and narrative approaches in plastic and microplastic sources, sinks and transportation at global and historical scales. We also addressed the roles of anthropogenic influences in the global transportation of microplastic. The hydrological, meteorological, oceanic and even biological progresses naturally influence the plastic cycle and flow directions within the Earth's Four Spheres. Anthropogenic activities participated in all sections of plastic transportation, from sources to sinks. The contribution from anthropogenic activities remains unknown but several point sources including primary emissions and landfills have been confirmed. The primary outcomes point out that plastic pollution is highly complex issues in terms of natural and human-driven dynamics. We suggested that more efforts were needed in seeking the key sections in plastic transportation between environmental compartments at a global scale.
... In industrialized countries, terrestrial emissions of microplastics seem to mainly originate from farmlands because of sewage sludge treatments which are used to improve soil fertility and favor plant growth [7,8]. However, recent studies reported that environmental microplastic concentrations (soil, urban areas, freshwaters, glaciers, and seas) are related to rainfall and atmospheric deposition [2,9,10]. ...
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Experimental evidence on the bio-ecological effects of microplastics on terrestrial plants is still lacking. In this study, we hypothesized that soil polluted with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) microparticles can negatively influence plant traits, photosynthetic efficiency and phenology of two weeds but with different strength in relation to the species’ life traits. Therefore, we conducted an experiment in a common garden growing the wild species Senecio inaequidens and Centaurea cyanus for about 60 days. The possible toxic effects of soil microplastics (1% of PVC in 100 g of soil medium) were investigated, coupling an analyses on plant traits with an evaluation of the microplastic-induced changes in terms of phenology and photosynthetic efficiency. Overall, results showed that plants in control pots were higher and larger than those in treated ones (C. cyanus plant width: p < 0.05; S. inaequidens—plant height: p < 0.05; plant width: p < 0.05). Moreover, for C. cyanus, photosynthetic efficiency (index Fv/Fm) was significantly lower in the treatment than that in control (p < 0.05). About phenology, the second leaf of S. inaequidens emerged earlier in control than that in treatments (day 12.2 ± 0.25 and 14.3 ± 0.3, respectively; p < 0.001). The obtained results highlight that PVC microparticles may have had negative effects on soil–plant system reducing the performance of plants. Since, up to now, research on the interaction between soil microplastics and terrestrial plants has mainly focused on agricultural plants, this work fills a gap of knowledge regarding wild species (weeds), highlighting the possible future impact of microplastics on biodiversity.
... This study also sought ways to various media. Large amounts of microplastics generated in the terrestrial system are transported by air to desolate and remote places, such as the ocean surface atmosphere and Alpine glaciers (Allen et al., 2019;Ambrosini et al., 2019;Klein & Fischer, 2019;Liu, Wang, et al., 2019;Liu, Wu, et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2019). ...
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A diverse range of studies have investigated microplastics in indoor and outdoor air. However, where and how the air was collected differ between studies, as did the methods of separation and analysis. The difference makes it difficult to compare the results of the studies, because the quantity, size, shape, and type of microplastics detected are widely diverse and depend on the detection method. Herein, we studied the number, type, size, and shape of microplastics in air samples collected from the outdoor environment and the indoor environment of buildings with active human activities, such as apartment buildings and offices. The average number of microplastics in the indoor environment was approximately 1.5 times higher than that in the outdoor environment. The indoor ventilation volume affected the amount of microplastics generated, indicating that appropriate ventilation is important for reducing microplastics in indoor environments. This study also sought ways to manage microplastics at their primary sources, which is closely linked with the living environment, by comparing how they are generated in indoor and outdoor environments.
... There are two main sources of microplastics in the environment: primary sources pertaining to cosmetic products, and secondary sources that correspond to plastic aging (Briain et al., 2020). Secondary source microplastics are mainly found in oceans (Jambeck et al., 2015;Thompson et al., 2004), rivers (Mughini-Gras et al., 2021;Tibbetts et al., 2018), mountains (Ambrosini et al., 2019), and landfills (He et al., 2019), and even drinking water (Gouin et al., 2021;Krause et al., 2021). ...
Article
Microplastics have received considerable attention in recent years. Understanding the aging mechanism of plastics in different environments (land, fresh water, estuary, and ocean) is critical to control the microplastic formation. Therefore, the aging process of plastics, including polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), in different environments was simulated by analyzing their physical and chemical structures by using the Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy techniques. After 23 weeks, micro-scale microplastics (size less than 100 μm) could be extracted from the plastic surface through smashing waves in all fresh water and seawater samples. However, complete fragmentation was observed only in the case of thin-film plastics (TFPs, thickness of approximately 10 μm). This phenomenon indicated that TFPs disintegrated to microplastics more easily in the water system than on land, and the water flow notably affected the production of micro-scale particles. Furthermore, ultraviolet radiation affected the chemical structure of plastics through a two-stage process in all environments. In the initial stage, chemical aging occurred in the amorphous regions of both PE and PP, leading to the generation of newly functional groups such as C=O at 1717 cm⁻¹, and a reduced contact angle. In the later stage, PE exhibited additional crystals and increased contact angles, whereas PP demonstrated the tendency of producing oxygen-containing functional groups that could reduce the crystallinity. In addition, several inorganic salts (such as sulfate and phosphorus) in seawater likely combined with C–H-type stretches, thereby promoting the chemical aging of plastics.
Article
Lack of knowledge on levels and trends of litter and microplastic in the Arctic, is limiting our understanding of the sources, transport, fate and effects is hampering global activities aimed at reducing litter and microplastic in the environment. To obtain a holistic view to managing litter and microplastics in the Arctic, we considered the current state of knowledge and methods for litter and microplastics monitoring in eleven environmental compartments representing the marine, freshwater, terrestrial and atmospheric environments. Based on available harmonized methods, and existing data in the Arctic, we recommend prioritization of implementing litter and microplastics monitoring in the Arctic in four Priority 1 compartments - water, aquatic sediments, shorelines and seabirds. One or several of these compartments should be monitored to provide benchmark data for litter and microplastics in the Arctic and, in the future, data on spatial and temporal trends. For the other environmental compartments, methods should be refined for future sources and surveillance monitoring, as well as monitoring of effects. Implementation of the monitoring activities should include community-based local components where possible. While organized as national and regional programs, monitoring of litter and microplastics in the Arctic should be coordinated, with a view to future pan-Arctic assessments.
Chapter
Pollution by microplastics is a recent global problem owing to their preponderance in various matrices like air, water, biota, sediment, or soil and has become a global concern for the future generation sustainability. The mushrooming concerns about the detrimental effects of microplastics (MPs) on biota in response to its crescive detection and quantification in the aqueous ecosystems is looming large since last few decades, and it's a need of the hour for a thorough ecological risk assessment. The chapter highlights the MP production, release, and transport pathways along with its detrimental impacts on the aquatic biota at different levels of biological organization with available degradation approaches.
Article
Plastics have become a pervasive feature of modern life and are used in every aspect of modern-day life, from agriculture to microchips. Microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPs) have been detected in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and even in areas distant from the source of origin. There are still questions related to the source, weathering, transportation, and ecological impacts of biospheric MNPs. The problem is caused by inadequate physical analysis and lack of methods for standardizing sampling and identifying biospheric MNPs. There are only a few review papers that emphasize the sources of MNPs and their occurrence in various organisms. Monitoring and detection of MNPs in the environment, as well as physical-chemical and biological methods for their removal, are still unclear. The mechanism underlying the formation of MNPs, factors affecting their transportation and distribution in the biosphere are reviewed here. This review provides a comprehensive summary and analysis of the latest research updates on quantification, analysis, and abatement of MNPs. The comparisons of removal technologies based on their performance, sensitivity, economic feasibility, and volume handling capacity could help to design an efficient MNPs remediation strategy considering the source, characteristics, concentration, and volume of samples. Insights for future research recommendations are provided by identifying existing research loopholes and futuristic methodologies for MNPs detection, entrapment, and removal from the biosphere.
Article
Plastics have become a pervasive feature of modern life and are used in every aspect of modern-day life, from agriculture to microchips. Microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPs) have been detected in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and even in areas distant from the source of origin. There are still questions related to the source, weathering, transportation, and ecological impacts of biospheric MNPs. The problem is caused by inadequate physical analysis and lack of methods for standardizing sampling and identifying biospheric MNPs. There are only a few review papers that emphasize the sources of MNPs and their occurrence in various organisms. Monitoring and detection of MNPs in the environment, as well as physical-chemical and biological methods for their removal, are still unclear. The mechanism underlying the formation of MNPs, factors affecting their transportation and distribution in the biosphere are reviewed here. This review provides a comprehensive summary and analysis of the latest research updates on quantification, analysis, and abatement of MNPs. The comparisons of removal technologies based on their performance, sensitivity, economic feasibility, and volume handling capacity could help to design an efficient MNPs remediation strategy considering the source, characteristics, concentration, and volume of samples. Insights for future research recommendations are provided by identifying existing research loopholes and futuristic methodologies for MNPs detection, entrapment, and removal from the biosphere.
Article
The existence of nano sized plastic (NP) has been discussed heavily in recent years, however physical proof from environmental samples and direct comparisons to characterized microplastics is limited. Here we compare microplastic (MP) particles and counts (>10µm) to NP particle (<0.45µm) mass concentrations from deposition at a remote field site in the French Pyrenees (elevation 1425 m a.g.l.). Using Thermal Desorption – Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (TD-PTR-MS) analysis, the data shows that NP is present in atmospheric deposition in quantities up to 2.0 × 10⁵ nanograms m⁻² day⁻¹ (1.1 × 10⁵ nanograms m⁻² day⁻¹ standard deviation), comparable to that of the >10µm microplastic (up to 1.1 × 10⁵ nanograms m⁻² day⁻¹, 2.7 × 10⁴ nanograms m⁻² day⁻¹ standard deviation). This comparison indicates the quantity of NP and MP may be similar in this atmospheric deposition, however the estimated particle count for NP is understandably multiple orders of magnitude greater compared to MP. Backward trajectory modelling was used to consider the transport of these MP and NP particles. This highlighted the extended spatial influence of NP and its propensity to remain elevated over a 7-day period.
Article
Plastic pollution in various forms has emerged as the most severe environmental threat. Small plastic chunks, such as micro-plastics and nanoplastics derived from primary and secondary sources, are a major concern worldwide due to their adverse effects on the environment and public health. Several years have been spent developing robust spectroscopic techniques that should be considered top-notch; however, researchers are still trying to find efficient and straightforward methods for the analysis of microplastics but have yet to develop a viable solution. Because of the small size of these degraded plastics, they have been found in various species, from human brains to blood and digestive systems. Several pollution-controlling methods have been tested in recent years, and these methods are prominent and need to be developed. Bacterial degradation, sunlight-driven photocatalyst, fuels, and biodegradable plastics could be game-changers in future research on plastic pollution control. However, recent fledgling steps in controlling methods appear insufficient due to widespread contamination. As a result, proper regulation of environmental microplastics is a significant challenge, and the most equitable way to manage plastic pollution. Therefore, this paper discusses the current state of microplastics, some novel and well-known identification techniques, strategies for overcoming microplastic effects, and needed solutions to mitigate this planetary pollution. This review article, we believe, will fill a void in the field of plastic identification and pollution mitigation research.
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Occurrences and characteristics of atmospheric microplastics(MPs) have been widely studied by previous studies, while the mitigation of airborne MPs pollution was not well understood. In this study, atmospheric samples of MPs were collected in pairs on the rooftop and under trees composed of representative afforested species Ficus microcarpa in Chengdu, Southwest China, to explore whether trees could intercept MPs. Results showed that the daily life of human beings and textile industries of urban areas were sources of airborne MPs as revealed by chemical compositions and air trajectories. The trees with the high coverage degree (88%) and large three-dimensional spaces formed by leaves did have the ability to intercept high-density MPs with small sizes under the force of gravity. The intercepting rate was about 16.3%, 12,593 n/m² of fibers and 347.69 kg of MPs could be intercepted by urban forests for one year. However, threshold values of rainfall intensity (12 mm/d) and rainfall amounts (14 mm) were found to limit the intercepting mechanism, and intercepting effects decrease with the increase of rainfall amounts (R =-0.71). This work provides quantitative evidence that elucidated urban forests may act as receptors of airborne MPs, thus improving the air quality and human health.
Article
Controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) was applied widely in China as an efficient utilization strategy for improving grain yield and reducing the nitrogen contamination. However, it was indeterminate to know the impacts of inevitably imported plastic into the soil on sustainable development. After ten-year fixed-site experiment, the visible residual coating microplastics were separated from the soil to measure their changes, then the long-term effects of CRF application (theoretical microplastic content 0.018–0.151 g kg⁻¹ soil) on soil architecture and bacterial communities were evaluated. Based on soil organomineral complexes (OMC) distribution experiments and soil 16S rRNA sequence analysis, residual coating microplastics had no significant impact on soil architecture and limited effects on soil bacteria, but became the specific microbial habitat. The nitrogen rate and nitrogen release mode affected sand- and silt-grade OMC, and nitrogen rate impacted soil bacteria communities. The residual coating, small inert particles, is safe for soil OMC and bacterial communities in agricultural soil. Due to the effectiveness of CRF on reducing environmental pollution, CRF is considered as a favorable measure to the sustainable agricultural development in Shandong Province, China.
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A sustainable technology to eliminate the persistent reactive dyes from the textile effluents discharged indiscriminately in the environment is highly desirous given the explosive growth of textile industries. The present study investigated the potential of two different bacterial strains, Bacillus cereus SKB12 and Enterobacter hormaechei SKB16 isolated from the dye house effluent sludge in the biotransformation of Reactive Red 198 (RR 198). Process variables such as temperature, pH, shaking conditions and contact time were optimized for the successful decolourization of RR 198. Maximum decolourization of 80% and 85% of RR 198 was achieved at pH 6 and 7, and 40 °C in microaerophilic conditions on treatment with B. cereus and E. hormaechei, respectively. High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS) analyses conducted further affirmed that the decolourization of RR 198 was rather due to biodegradation than biosorption through shift in wavenumbers, retention time variations and the appearance of lesser molecular weight peaks. Degradative pathway for RR 198 predicted based on the enzyme assay data and dye degraded metabolite peaks acquired through GC–MS analysis highlighted the significance of azoreductase and laccase in the degradation of RR 198 into smaller non-toxic compounds. In addition, toxicity assessment through zootoxicological and phytotoxicological experiments using brine shrimp and Vigna radiata validated the detoxified status of the metabolites thus proving the promising potentials of the bacterial strains in the remediation of azo dyes.
Article
The discovery of atmospheric micro(nano)plastic transport and ocean–atmosphere exchange points to a highly complex marine plastic cycle, with negative implications for human and ecosystem health. Yet, observations are currently limited. In this Perspective, we quantify the processes and fluxes of the marine-atmospheric micro(nano)plastic cycle, with the aim of highlighting the remaining unknowns in atmospheric micro(nano)plastic transport. Between 0.013 and 25 million metric tons per year of micro(nano)plastics are potentially being transported within the marine atmosphere and deposited in the oceans. However, the high uncertainty in these marine-atmospheric fluxes is related to data limitations and a lack of study intercomparability. To address the uncertainties and remaining knowledge gaps in the marine-atmospheric micro(nano)plastic cycle, we propose a future global marine-atmospheric micro(nano)plastic observation strategy, incorporating novel sampling methods and the creation of a comparable, harmonized and global data set. Together with long-term observations and intensive investigations, this strategy will help to define the trends in marine-atmospheric pollution and any responses to future policy and management actions.
Article
Anthropogenic microparticles (e.g., microplastics) are present in sewage plants, especially in sludge streams. However, the lack of standardized protocols to scrutinize the presence of anthropogenic microparticles in sludge makes the comparison between studies unfeasible. To tackle the knowledge gap regarding the efficiency of methodologies on the extraction of anthropogenic microparticles from the complex organic matrix, dewatered sludge, and digested sludge was treated with peroxidation and density separation, and the recovery of microparticles from these samples was investigated. The results showed that with the use of a higher density solution (NaI, 1.5 g/cm³) a much better recovery of anthropogenic microparticles from sludge samples (approximately 1000 microparticles/g-dw and 2000 microparticles/g-dw, from dewatered and digested sludge, respectively) was achieved in comparison with the use of a lower density solution (NaCl, 1.2 g/cm³) (200 microparticles/g-dw and 600 microparticles/g-dw from dewatered and digested sludge, respectively). Moreover, although the use of peroxidation is an essential step to break down the sludge structure and to release microparticles to the liquid phase, the use of peroxidation after or before density separation did not affect the overall recovery of microparticles. Polyethylene, polypropylene, and copolymer ethylene-ethyl-acrylate were the main microplastic fragments identified in digested sludge and dewatered sludge. However, no relation was observed between the method applied and the polymer recovered. Regarding the presence of anthropogenic microparticle in centrifuge effluent, 450 ± 212 microparticles/L were counted, and although little is known about this stream, in can be a relevant source of anthropogenic microparticles.
Article
Agricultural soil is a sink of microplastics (MPs) in the environment. MPs in topsoil can be transferred deeply or into surrounding water by rainfall. However, little is known about rainfall-induced migration pattern of different MPs in agricultural soil. In this study, soil leaching experiments of 21 d were performed on Nile red-stained size-different polyethylene terephthalate (PET) particles, and shape-different polyethylene (PE) MPs under simulated or natural rainfall. Results showed that simulated rainfall of 5–25 mm/d caused intensity-dependent migration of MPs in horizontal and vertical directions. Maximum migration depth of MP particles arrived up to 4–7 cm. Rise of soil slopes could significantly increase horizontal mobility of MPs. Comparatively, natural rainfall of similar intensity caused relatively high mobility of MPs. Moreover, under both simulative and natural rainfall, mobility of MPs presented size/shape-different characteristics. Comparatively, small-size MPs (especially <1 mm) showed relatively high mobility in horizontal or vertical direction, and had high-frequency presence in runoff water. Of four MPs' shapes, fiber and film had relatively high mobility in comparison to particles. These results indicate that rainfall can cause size/shape-dependent migration of MPs in agricultural soil. It suggests size/shape-different environment fate of MPs, and provides a reference for MP control.
Article
Concerns about the ecological safety of both conventional and biodegradable microplastics have grown due to the inadequate end-of-life treatments of plastics. In this study, the effects of conventional and biodegradable microplastics on the spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and virulence factors (VFs) were estimated in a soil microcosm experiment. The gene profiles and their respective bacterial hosts in soil were evaluated by metagenomic sequencing methods. The abundances of ARGs and VFs in polybutylene succinate (PBS) treated soils were statistically higher than the values in the control and conventional microplastic treatments. In comparison with the control, application of conventional microplastics showed negligible effects on ARG and VF profiles in the soil, while biodegradable microplastic amendments significantly changed the compositions of ARGs and VFs. The host-tracking analysis suggested application of microplastics broadened the bacterial hosts of ARGs and VFs in the soil. The percentage of Proteobacteria as ARG hosts increased from 38.5% in the control soils to 58.2% in microplastic exposed soil. The genus Bradyrhizobium was the dominant host of ARGs and VFs in biodegradable microplastic treatments, while conventional microplastics increased the percentages of Pseudomonas as the bacterial hosts. This study enhances the understanding of the effects of conventional and biodegradable microplastics on the propagation and hosts of ARGs and VFs in the terrestrial environment, providing essential insights into the risk assessment and management of plastics.
Article
The atmosphere and cryosphere have recently garnered considerable attention due to their role in transporting microplastics to and within the Arctic, and between freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environments. While investigating either in isolation provides valuable insight on the fate of microplastics in the Arctic, monitoring both provides a more holistic view. Nonetheless, despite the recent scientific interest, fundamental knowledge on microplastic abundance, and consistent monitoring efforts, are lacking for these compartments. Here, we build upon the work of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme’s Monitoring Guidelines for Litter and Microplastic to provide a roadmap for multi-compartment monitoring of the atmosphere and cryosphere to support our understanding of the sources, pathways, and sinks of plastic pollution across the Arctic. Overall, we recommend the use of existing standard techniques for ice and atmospheric sampling and to build upon existing monitoring efforts in the Arctic to obtain a more comprehensive pan-Arctic view of microplastic pollution in these two compartments.
Article
Microplastics (MPs) implications in the atmosphere are of current global concern. Currently, there is a growing interest regarding source appointment, fate, level of toxicity, and exposure intensity of ambient air MPs. Recent data suggest that polyethylene (PE) dominates ambient MPs in China’s megacities. Albeit understanding of PE sources is limited and restricted to typical sources polluting terrestrial and marine environments. However, the air is a distinct environmental component and may have some separate pollution sources as well as the relative contribution of different sources could also contrast in different environments. Urbanization and fast construc-tion activity resulting from increased economic growth in these places might be a potential source of ambient PE. Recently, the use of scaffold netting on construction sites and synthetic grass as land covering sheets has been on the rise. Generally, these PE items are often inferior and composed of recycled material, making them more prone to degradation. Also, because these items were continually exposed to open air, there is a considerable risk of fragmentation and atmospheric mixing. Therefore, unchecked and excessive usage of these materials can be risky. Here, PE’s physical and chemical characteristics, transport and health risks in urban air are discussed here.
Article
Microplastics have attracted global attention as an emerging and ubiquitous contaminant in the environment. There are several pathways of human microplastic exposure, however, atmospheric microplastic pollution has yet rarely been elucidated systematically, especially the impact of atmospheric microplastics on human health. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge about microplastic pollution in atmosphere based on sample types, and the factors affecting microplastic transport or deposition as well as human exposure and potential risks on humans are discussed. Microplastics have been reported in suspended particular particles, atmospheric fallout, road dust and wet precipitation around the world, but the abundance of atmospheric microplastics varies in different regions. The abundance of microplastics in the atmosphere is greatly affected by human activities and meteorological factors, but the influence mechanisms on the transport and deposition processes remain to be clarified. Furthermore, atmospheric microplastics can pose potential health threats once inhaled, and the intake is age-related, with probably less intake for adults than children. Knowledge gaps and perspectives for further studies of atmospheric microplastic pollution status and human risk assessments are also proposed.
Chapter
Microplastics (MPs) have been detected in diverse aquatic environments, including oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, beaches, coastlines, and even in mangroves. A recent study has brought to light that almost 22% of the countries have carried out studies on MPs. From these it is evident that MPs have been observed in almost 44 countries globally. However it cannot be taken for granted that the remaining countries are pristine to MPs. More studies on MPs need to be carried out across all countries by employing uniform protocols right from collection to analyses and units of expression. The microplastics may be accumulated in all environments across different countries of the world. However, the quantum of MPs present globally remains under estimated since there is lacuna of information in many parts of the world. All countries in unison should minimize plastic discharges and find alternatives to reduce MP accumulation.
Article
Rivers are the important channels for transporting microplastics into the ocean from land. Prosperous dam construction changed the connectivity of rivers, thereby reducing the flux of microplastics to the ocean. However, this process currently lacks verification for the large-scale watersheds. In this study, we investigated the Wujiang River in China to evaluate the interception of cascade dams on microplastics. The results showed that: 1) The midstream exhibits a high abundance of microplastics (606.6–1046.2 items·kg⁻¹) while the upstream and downstream reach exhibits relatively low pollution levels. The small-sized microplastics of 0–0.5 mm are easily migrated into downstream while the large-sized microplastics of 0.5–5 mm tend to deposit. 2) Ten kinds of plastic materials were found, in which polyethylene and polypropylene, originated from the developed tourism and fishery, account for 74.2% in all samples. 3) The earliest microplastics were found in the sediments of 1962. The abundance of microplastics in the sediments in seven reservoirs increased over time, impling the contribution of increasing human activities. 4) Positive correlations between the abundance of microplastics in sediments and local gross domestic product (GDP) (n = 33, R² = 0.89, p < 0.05) and negative correlations between microplastics abundance and reservoir basin area (n = 33, R² = 0.42, p < 0.05) revealed that GDP and watershed area are the key factors that control the distribution of microplastics. Our results help to understand the migration of microplastics between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Article
Three-dimensional (3D) structured organoids are the most advanced in vitro models for studying human health effects, but their application to evaluate the biological effects associated with microplastic exposure was neglected until now. Fibers from synthetic clothes and fabrics are a major source of airborne microplastics, and their release from dryer machines is poorly understood. We quantified and characterized the microplastic fibers (MPFs) released in the exhaust filter of a household dryer and tested their effects on airway organoids (1, 10, and 50 µg mL⁻¹) by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal microscopy and quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). While the presence of MPFs did not inhibit organoid growth, we observed a significant reduction of SCGB1A1 gene expression related to club cell functionality and a polarized cell growth along the fibers. The MPFs did not cause relevant inflammation or oxidative stress but were coated with a cellular layer, resulting in the inclusion of fibers in the organoid. This effect could have long-term implications regarding lung epithelial cells undergoing repair. This exposure study using human airway organoids proved suitability of the model for studying the effects of airborne microplastic contamination on humans and could form the basis for further research regarding the toxicological assessment of emerging contaminants such as micro- or nanoplastics.
Chapter
Microplastics (MPs) have recently emerged as an important environmental contaminant. Due to their environmental persistence and deep penetration into the body, microplastics may cause harmful health effects such as oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, disruption in the immune system, neurotoxicity, microbial infections, etc. Microplastics are ubiquitous and have been recovered from regions far from their primary sources of origin. They are generally defined as plastic fragments having a diameter ranging between 1 μm to 5 mm. Microplastic exists in different shapes, sizes, and colors, determined by its origin and production process, and thus varies greatly in abundance depending on the source of origin. The chemical composition of the MPs depends on the type of polymer used to make the plastics from which MPs are eventually formed. Many scientific investigations have been carried out to document the effects of MPs in marine and other aquatic ecosystems. However, there exists an information gap about their quantitative assessment in the atmosphere, physical and chemical characteristics, and associated health impacts. Moreover, to examine their occurrence, transport, and risks to human health, more research‐based studies are required to standardize sampling and identification protocols. In this chapter, based on the existing literature, we have discussed the characteristics of MPs present in the atmosphere, their possible route of exposure to the human body, and associated health effects.
Article
Historically, glaciers have been seen as pristine environments. However, recent research has shown that glaciers can accumulate and store contaminants over long timescales, through processes such as atmospheric deposition, sedimentation, glacial hydrology and mass movements. Studies have identified numerous anthropogenically derived contaminants within the global cryosphere, including the six we focus on here: fallout radionuclides; microplastics; persistent organic pollutants; potentially toxic elements; black carbon and nitrate-based contaminants. These contaminants are relatively well-studied in other environments; however, their dynamics and role in glaciated systems is still poorly understood. Therefore, it is important to assess and quantify contaminant levels within the cryosphere, so that current and future threats can be fully understood and mitigated. In this first progress report ( Part I: Inputs and accumulation), we review the current state of knowledge of six of the most common anthropogenic contaminants found in the cryosphere, and consider their sources, transportation, accumulation and concentration within glacial systems. A second progress report ( Part II: Release and downstream consequences) will outline how these contaminants leave glacial systems and the consequences that this release can have for communities and ecosystems reliant on glacial meltwater.
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The widespread occurrence of microplastic has invaded the environment to an extent that it appears to be present throughout the globe. This review investigated the global abundance and distribution of microplastics in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Furthermore, the issues and challenges have been addressed for better findings in microplastics studies. Findings revealed that the accumulation of microplastics varies geographically, with locations, hydrodynamic conditions, environmental pressure, and time. From this review, it is crucial that proper regulations are proposed and implemented in order to reduce the occurrence of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Without appropriate law and regulations, microplastic pollution will eventually threaten human livelihood.
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Cryoconite, the typical sediment found on the surface of glaciers, is mainly known in relation to its role in glacial microbiology and in altering the glacier albedo. But if these aspects are relatively well addressed, the same cannot be said about the geochemical properties of cryoconite and the possible interactions with glacial and peri-glacial environment. Current glacier retreat is responsible for the secondary emission of species deposited in high-altitude regions in the last decades. The role played by cryoconite in relation to such novel geochemical fluxes is largely unknown. Few and scarce observations suggest that it could interact with these processes, accumulating specific substances, but why, how and to what extent remain open questions. Through a multi-disciplinary approach we tried to shed lights. Results reveal that the peculiar composition of cryoconite is responsible for an extreme accumulation capability of this sediment, in particular for some, specific, anthropogenic substances.
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In spite of the quite abundant literature focusing on fine debris deposition over glacier accumulation areas, less attention has been paid to the glacier melting surface. Accordingly, we proposed a novel method based on semi-automatic image analysis to estimate ice albedo from fine debris coverage (d). Our procedure was tested on the surface of a wide Alpine valley glacier (the Forni Glacier, Italy), in summer 2011, 2012 and 2013, acquiring parallel data sets of in situ measurements of ice albedo and high-resolution surface images. Analysis of 51 images yielded d values ranging from 0.01 to 0.63 and albedo was found to vary from 0.06 to 0.32. The estimated d values are in a linear relation with the natural logarithm of measured ice albedo (R = −0.84). The robustness of our approach in evaluating d was analyzed through five sensitivity tests, and we found that it is largely replicable. On the Forni Glacier, we also quantified a mean debris coverage rate (Cr) equal to 6 g m−2 per day during the ablation season of 2013, thus supporting previous studies that describe ongoing darkening phenomena at Alpine debris-free glaciers surface. In addition to debris coverage, we also considered the impact of water (both from melt and rainfall) as a factor that tunes albedo: meltwater occurs during the central hours of the day, decreasing the albedo due to its lower reflectivity; instead, rainfall causes a subsequent mean daily albedo increase slightly higher than 20 %, although it is short-lasting (from 1 to 4 days).
Article
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Cryoconite is granular sediment found on glacier surfaces comprising both mineral and biological material. Despite long having been recognised as an important glaciological and biological phenomenon cryoconite remains relatively poorly understood. Here, we appraise the literature on cryoconite for the first time, with the aim of synthesising and evaluating current knowledge to direct future investigations. We review the properties of cryoconite, the environments in which it is found, the biology and biogeochemistry of cryoconite, and its interactions with climate and anthropogenic pollutants. We generally focus upon cryoconite in the Arctic in summer, with Antarctic and lower latitude settings examined individually. We then compare the current state-of-the-science with that at the turn of the twentieth century, and suggest directions for future research including specific recommendations for studies at a range of spatial scales and a framework for integrating these into a more holistic understanding of cryoconite and its role in the cryosphere.
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Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment, yet estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics have lacked data, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere and remote regions. Here we report an estimate of the total number of plastic particles and their weight floating in the world’s oceans from 24 expeditions (2007–2013) across all five sub-tropical gyres, costal Australia, Bay of Bengal and the Mediterranean Sea conducting surface net tows (N5680) and visual survey transects of large plastic debris (N5891). Using an oceanographic model of floating debris dispersal calibrated by our data, and correcting for wind-driven vertical mixing, we estimate a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons. When comparing between four size classes, two microplastic ,4.75 mm and meso- and macroplastic .4.75 mm, a tremendous loss of microplastics is observed from the sea surface compared to expected rates of fragmentation, suggesting there are mechanisms at play that remove ,4.75 mm plastic particles from the ocean surface.
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A distributed surface energy-balance study was performed to determine sub-debris ablation across a large part of Baltoro glacier, a wide debris-covered glacier in the Karakoram range, Pakistan. The study area is ∼124 km2. The study aimed primarily at analyzing the influence of debris thickness on the melt distribution. The spatial distribution of the physical and thermal characteristics of the debris was calculated from remote-sensing (ASTER image) and field data. Meteorological data from an automatic weather station at Urdukas (4022 m a.s.l.), located adjacent to Baltoro glacier on a lateral moraine, were used to calculate the spatial distribution of energy available for melting during the period 1-15 July 2004. The model performance was evaluated by comparisons with field measurements for the same period. The model is reliable in predicting ablation over wide debris-covered areas. It underestimates melt rates over highly crevassed areas and water ponds with a high variability of the debris thickness distribution in the vicinity, and over areas with very low debris thickness (<0.03 m). We also examined the spatial distribution of the energy-balance components (global radiation and surface temperature) over the study area. The results allow us to quantify, for the study period, a meltwater production of 0.058 km3.
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Fiji is a distribution of the popular open-source software ImageJ focused on biological-image analysis. Fiji uses modern software engineering practices to combine powerful software libraries with a broad range of scripting languages to enable rapid prototyping of image-processing algorithms. Fiji facilitates the transformation of new algorithms into ImageJ plugins that can be shared with end users through an integrated update system. We propose Fiji as a platform for productive collaboration between computer science and biology research communities.
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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: (1) to summarise the properties, nomenclature and sources of microplastics; (2) to discuss the routes by which microplastics enter the marine environment; (3) to evaluate the methods by which microplastics are detected in the marine environment; (4) to assess spatial and temporal trends of microplastic abundance; and (5) to discuss the environmental impact of microplastics. 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.
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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 products commenced in the 1950s, plastic debris has accumulated in terrestrial environments, in the open ocean, on shorelines of even the most remote islands and in the deep sea. Annual clean-up operations, costing millions of pounds sterling, are now organized in many countries and on every continent. Here we document global plastics production and the accumulation of plastic waste. While plastics typically constitute approximately 10 per cent of discarded waste, they represent a much greater proportion of the debris accumulating on shorelines. Mega- and macro-plastics have accumulated in the highest densities in the Northern Hemisphere, adjacent to urban centres, in enclosed seas and at water convergences (fronts). We report lower densities on remote island shores, on the continental shelf seabed and the lowest densities (but still a documented presence) in the deep sea and Southern Ocean. The longevity of plastic is estimated to be hundreds to thousands of years, but is likely to be far longer in deep sea and non-surface polar environments. Plastic debris poses considerable threat by choking and starving wildlife, distributing non-native and potentially harmful organisms, absorbing toxic chemicals and degrading to micro-plastics that may subsequently be ingested. Well-established annual surveys on coasts and at sea have shown that trends in mega- and macro-plastic accumulation rates are no longer uniformly increasing: rather stable, increasing and decreasing trends have all been reported. The average size of plastic particles in the environment seems to be decreasing, and the abundance and global distribution of micro-plastic fragments have increased over the last few decades. However, the environmental consequences of such microscopic debris are still poorly understood.
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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
Article
Microplastics (MPs) are small (<5 mm diameter) but have clear implications for the environment. These artificial particles are found in and pose threats to aquatic systems worldwide. MPs have terrestrial sources, but their concentrations and fates in the terrestrial environment are poorly understood. Whilst global plastic production continues to increase, so do the environmental concentrations and impacts of MPs. In this first study of MPs in floodplain soils, we developed a method for identifying, quantifying, and measuring the sizes of most commonly produced MPs in soil by FT-IR microscopy. For small MP (<1mm) analysis, MP were separated by density separation and oxidation of organic matter. In this study we analyzed 29 floodplains in Swiss nature reserves associated with catchments covering 53% of Switzerland. We found evidence that 90% of Swiss floodplain soils contain MPs. The highest MP concentrations were associated with the concentration of mesoplastics (5 mm – 2.5 cm diameter), indicating plastic waste as source. Furthermore, MP concentration was correlated with the population of the catchment. The wide distribution of MPs, their presence in remote unsettled high mountain areas, decoupling of MEP and MP compositions, and the dominance of MPs by small (<500 µm diameter) particles, indicate that MPs enter soils via diffuse aeolian transport.
Article
Over the last decades, the expansion of supraglacial debris on worldwide mountain glaciers has been reported. Nevertheless, works dealing with the detection and mapping of supraglacial debris and detailed analyses aimed at identifying the temporal and spatial trends affecting glacier debris cover are still limited. In this study, we used different remote sensing sources to detect and map the supraglacial debris cover, to analyze its evolution, and to assess the potential of different remote-sensed image data. We performed our analyses on the glaciers of Ortles-Cevedale Group (Stelvio Park, Italy), one of the most representative glacierized sectors of the European Alps. High-resolution airborne orthophotos (pixel size 0.5 m × 0.5 m) acquired during the summer season in the years 2003, 2007, and 2012 permitted to map in detail, with an error lower than ±5%, the supraglacial debris cover through a maximum likelihood classification. Our findings suggest that over the period 2003–2012, supraglacial debris cover increased from 16.7% to 30.1% of the total glacier area. On Forni Glacier we extended these quantification thanks to the availability of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) orthophotos from 2014 and 2015 (pixel size 0.15 m × 0.15 m): this detailed analysis permitted to confirm debris is increasing on the glacier melting surface (+20.4%) and confirms the requirement of high-resolution data in debris mapping on Alpine glaciers. Finally, we also checked the suitability of medium-resolution Landsat ETM+ data and Sentinel 2 data to map debris in a typical Alpine glaciation scenario where small ice bodies (<0.5 km²) are the majority. The results we obtained suggest that medium-resolution data are not suitable for a detailed description and evaluation of supraglacial debris cover in the Alpine scenario, nevertheless Sentinel 2 proved to be appropriate for a preliminary mapping of the main debris features.
Article
The thickness of supraglacial debris on the Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalaya, has been mapped by a combination of direct measurements and morphological and lithological studies. All three processes, englacial, supraglacial, and subglacial, must be considered in establishing the distribution of debris. Taking advantage of the lithological characteristics of the debris and their bedrock source, the denudation rate of the schistose bedrock was estimated to be about 0.02 mm a−1. A rough estimate of the production rate of supraglacial debris indicated that most of the present debris has formed since the last advance of the glacier, which took place a few hundred years B.P.
Article
Surface of glaciers is covered by mineral and organic dust, together with microorganisms forming cryoconite granules. Despite fact that glaciers and ice sheets constitute significance part of land surface, reservoir of freshwater, and sites of high biological production, the knowledge on the cryoconite granules still remain unsatisfactory. This study presents information on radionuclide and heavy metal contents in cryoconites. Cryoconites collected from the Hans Glacier in SW Spitsbergen reveal high activity concentrations of anthropogenic (238,239,240Pu, 137Cs, 90Sr) and natural (210Pb) radionuclides. The 238Pu/239+240Pu activity ratios in these cryoconites significantly exceed the mean global fallout ratio (0.025). The 238Pu/239+240Pu ranged from 0.064 to 0.118. The 239+240Pu/137Cs varied from 0.011 ± 0.003 to 0.030 ± 0.007. Such activity ratios as observed in these cryoconites were significantly higher than the values characterizing global fallout, pointing to possible contributions of these radionuclides from other sources. Heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Cu, Zn, Fe, and Mn) in cryoconites exceed both UCC concentrations and local rocks’ concentrations, particularly for cadmium. The concentration ratios of stable lead isotopes (206Pb/207Pb, 208Pb/206Pb) were determined to discriminate between the natural and anthropogenic sources of Pb in cryoconites and to confirm the strong anthropogenic contribution to heavy metal deposition in the Arctic. In investigated cryoconite holes, two groups of invertebrates, both extremophiles, Tardigrada and Rotifera were detected. Our study indicate that cryoconites are aggregates of mineral and organic substances on surfaces of glaciers are able to accumulate large amounts of airborne pollutants bound to extracellular polymeric substances secreted by microorganisms.
Article
Tibetan Plateau is known as the world’s third pole, which is characterized by a low population density with very limited human activities. Tibetan Plateau possesses the greatest numbers of high-altitude inland lakes in the world. However, no information is currently available on the characteristic of microplastic pollution in those lakes within this remote area. In this work, lakeshore sediments from four lakes within the Siling Co basin in northern Tibet were sampled and examined for microplastics (<5 mm). Microplastics were detected in six out of seven sampling sites with abundances ranging from 8 ± 14 to 563 ± 1219 items/m2. Riverine input might have contributed to the high abundance of microplastics observed in this remote area. Morphological features suggest that microplastics are derived from the breakdown of daily used plastic products. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polyvinyl chloride were identified from the microplastic samples using laser Raman spectroscopy, and oxidative and mechanical weathering textures were observed on the surface of microplastics using scanning electron microscope. These results demonstrate the presence of microplastics even for inland lakes in remote areas under very low human impact, and microplastic pollution can be a global issue.
Article
Sources, pathways and reservoirs of microplastics, plastic particles smaller than 5 mm, remain poorly documented in an urban context. While some studies pointed out wastewater treatment plants as a potential pathway of microplastics, none have focused on the atmospheric compartment. In this work, the atmospheric fallout of microplastics was investigated in two different urban and sub-urban sites. Microplastics were collected continuously with a stainless steel funnel. Samples were then filtered and observed with a stereomicroscope. Fibers accounted for almost all the microplastics collected. An atmospheric fallout between 2 and 355 particles/m2/day was highlighted. Registered fluxes were systematically higher at the urban than at the sub-urban site. Chemical characterization allowed to estimate at 29% the proportion of these fibers being all synthetic (made with petrochemicals), or a mixture of natural and synthetic material. Extrapolation using weight and volume estimates of the collected fibers, allowed a rough estimation showing that between 3 and 10 tons of fibers are deposited by atmospheric fallout at the scale of the Parisian agglomeration every year (2500 km²). These results could serve the scientific community working on the different sources of microplastic in both continental and marine environments.
Article
Plastic debris is one of the most significant organic pollutants in the aquatic environment. Due to properties such as buoyancy and extreme durability, synthetic polymers are present in rivers, lakes and oceans and accumulate in sediments all over the world. However, freshwater sediments have attracted less attention than the investigation of sediments in marine ecosystems. For this reason, river shore sediments of the rivers Rhine and Main in the Rhine-Main area in Germany were analyzed. The sample locations comprised shore sediment of a large European river (Rhine) and a river characterized by industrial influence (Main) in areas with varying population sizes as well as sites in proximity to nature reserves. All sediments analyzed contained microplastic particles (<5mm) with mass fractions of up to 1 g kg-1 or 4000 particles kg-1 respectively. Analysis of the plastics by infrared spectroscopy showed a high abundance of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene, which covered over 75% of all polymer types identified in the sediment. Short distance transport of plastic particles from the tributary to the main stream could be confirmed by the identification of pellets, which were separated from shore sediment samples of both rivers. This systematic study shows the emerging pollution of inland river sediments with microplastics and, as a consequence thereof, underlines the importance of rivers as transport vectors of microplastics into the ocean.
Article
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 <5mm), have reached high densities (e.g., 100 000 items per m3) 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.
Article
Plastic waste is of increasing concern in marine ecosystems [1-3]. Buoyant plastic particles accumulate in pelagic habitats whereas non-floating debris accumulates on the seafloor and in beach sediments, posing risk to the respective communities [1-4]. Microplastic particles (<5 mm) are either directly introduced via sewage discharge or formed by biofouling and mechanical abrasion, making them more prone to consumption by aquatic organisms [2,3]. As a consequence, they can accumulate in higher trophic levels [3-5]. A variety of harmful effects of plastic and associated chemicals has been shown [2-4]. Moreover, plastic debris can act as vector for alien species and diseases [2,6]. A large portion of the plastic waste is produced onshore and reaches the marine environment, which is considered the main sink of plastic debris. There is, however, a considerable lack of knowledge on the contamination of freshwater ecosystems with plastic debris. We here show that freshwater ecosystems also act, at least temporarily, as a sink for plastic particles.
Article
Current knowledge regarding deposition of atmospheric pollutants to mountain ecosystem is reviewed focusing on the mountains of eastern North America. Despite a general paucity of published data on the subject, some generalization emerge. Wet deposition (i.e. precipitation input) of SO42−, NO3−, H+ and Pb tends to increase with elevation, primarily because of the orographic increase in precipitation amount. Cloud water deposition of these substances can be very significant for mountain forests, but is highly variable spatially because of its strong dependence on wind speed, cloud characteristics, and vegetation canopy structure, which are all heterogeneously distributed. Dry deposition has not been quantified sufficiently to draw empirical generalizations, but the processes involved are discussed with regard to expected elevational trends. Based on the few studies in which total annual deposition (wet, dry, plus cloud water inputs for an entire year) has been measured, it appears that some high-elevation sites in the Appalachian Mountains receive substantially more SO42−, NO3+ deposition than do typical low-elevation sites. The amount of elevational increase depends largely on the amount of cloud water deposition at the mountain site. Data from two clusters of sites in the northern Appalachians indicate that total deposition of SO42−, NO3−, and H+ to mountaintop sites is typically 3–7 times greater than deposition to nearby lowland sites. Similarly, some studies of Pb accumulation in organic soil horizons suggest a two- to four-fold increase from lowlands to mountaintops. Deposition in mountain areas can be highly variable over short distances because of the patchiness of meteorological conditions and vegetation canopy characteristics, and also because exposed trees and forest edges can receive deposition loads much higher than the landscape average. Night-time and early-morning O3 concentrations are greater at high-elevation than at low-elevation sites. Daytime O3 levels are equal or slightly higher at high-elevation sites. Additional studies are suggested which would allow better characterization of pollutant exposure along elevational gradients.
Article
Calculations of equilibrium partitioning in the atmosphere are used to quantify and compare the capacity of rain and snow to scavenge gaseous and particle-bound organic contaminants from the atmosphere at different temperatures. Whether snow or rain is more efficient in scavenging organic contaminants depends on the characteristics of the chemical, the characteristics of the snow and atmospheric temperature. At 0°C rain is typically more effective in scavenging the vapors of small organic molecules than snow, because the capacity of the snow surface to sorb such chemicals is smaller than that of liquid water droplets. Snow will, however, be a more effective scavenger for vapors of larger, non-polar organic compounds, which are only sparingly water soluble. The mode of scavenging (vapor vs. particles) and the total scavenging efficiency for such substances will be highly variable and dependent on temperature and the snow characteristics, namely the particle scavenging ratio and the specific snow surface area. To be effectively scavenged by snow, chemicals either need to have an adsorption coefficient at the snow surface KSA of >0.1 m or a particle–air partition coefficient KParticle/Air of >1011 at temperatures below 0°C. Many organic contaminants of concern have such properties. As temperature decreases, more of a chemical partitions from the vapor phase to liquid water droplets, atmospheric particles and the snow surface. This temperature effect is the main reason that snow scavenging ratios are often higher than rain scavenging ratios, especially below −10°C. It is also the reason why wet deposition processes become increasingly important with decreasing temperature, and even constitute the dominant deposition mechanism for some organic contaminants in cold environments.
Microplastics in a remote mountain catchment
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