Presence of Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems: An Unheeded Emerging Concern – A Global Review

Document Type : Review Paper


School of Industrial Fisheries, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi- 682016, Kerala, India


Plastic production has inevitably increased in the past few decades and is one of the diverse material used in today’s world. With this increasing production and wider use, the aquatic ecosystems have become the trash barrel for all kinds of plastic resulting in it becoming a looming spectre to the habitat and functions of both inland and offshore ecosystems. Plastic pollution is considered as an emerging global environmental concern which could significantly affect the biological diversity and may have potential to cause inimical effects on human health. These plastics have shown to gradually degrade into micro fragments and are reported to cause toxic effects on the aquatic organisms. In comparison to the studies on presence of microplastic in marine ecosystems, the studies on the presence of it in freshwater ecosystems have received relatively lesser attention although some studies have shown that the contamination is as grievous as that of in marine environment. This review article focuses on the literature available on the reports of microplastic occurrence, its distribution in freshwater ecosystems across the world and its insidious effects which are of emerging concern. The effect of such microplastic ingestion in both aquatic organisms and the potential health hazards due to such plastic consumption in humans have also been examined. The paper also discusses the existing knowledge gaps so that future research directions can be taken accordingly and the findings in this paper would significantly help all the countries across the world to understand the present plastic pollution scenario and work towards the mitigation of the same.


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