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Issue 11, 2015
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Microplastics in coastal and marine environments of the western tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean

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Abstract

Microplastic pollution is a global issue. It is present even in remote and pristine coastal and marine environments, likely causing impacts of unknown scale. Microplastics are primary- and secondary-sourced plastics with diameters of 5 mm or less that are either free in the water column or mixed in sandy and muddy sediments. Since the early 1970s, they have been reported to pollute marine environments; recently, concern has increased as soaring amounts of microplastics in the oceans were detected and because the development of unprecedented processes involving this pollutant at sea is being unveiled. Coastal and marine environments of the western tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean (WTAO) are contaminated with microplastics at different quantities and from a variety of types. The main environmental compartments (water, sediments and biota) are contaminated, but the consequences are still poorly understood. Rivers and all scales of fishery activities are identified as the most likely sources of this pollutant to coastal waters; however, based on the types of microplastics observed, other maritime operations are also possible sources. Ingestion by marine biota occurs in the vertebrate groups (fish, birds, and turtles) in these environments. In addition, the presence of microplastics in plankton samples from different habitats of estuaries and oceanic islands is confirmed. The connectivity among environmental compartments regarding microplastic pollution is a new research frontier in the region.

Graphical abstract: Microplastics in coastal and marine environments of the western tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Apr 2015, accepted on 09 Sep 2015 and first published on 15 Sep 2015


Article type: Critical Review
DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00158G
Author version available: Download Author version (PDF)
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015,17, 1868-1879
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    Microplastics in coastal and marine environments of the western tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean

    M. F. Costa and M. Barletta, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015, 17, 1868
    DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00158G

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