Emerging investigator series: microplastic sources, fate, toxicity, detection, and interactions with micropollutants in aquatic ecosystems – a review of reviews†
Hundreds of review studies have been published focusing on microplastics (MPs) and their environmental impacts. With the microbiota colonization of MPs being firmly established, MPs became an important carrier for contaminants to step inside the food web all the way up to humans. Thus, the continuous feed of MPs into the ecosystem has sparked a multitude of scientific concerns about their toxicity, characterization, and interactions with microorganisms and other contaminants. The reports of common subthemes have agreed about many findings and research gaps but also showed contradictions about others. To unravel these equivocal conflicts, we herein compile all the major findings and analyze the paramount discrepancies among these review papers. Furthermore, we systematically reviewed all the highlights, research gaps, concerns, and future needs. The covered focus areas of MPs' literature include the sources, occurrence, fate, existence, and removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), toxicity, interaction with microbiota, sampling, characterization, data quality, and interaction with other co-contaminants. This study reveals that many mechanisms of MPs' behavior in aquatic environments like degradation and interaction with microbiota are yet to be comprehended. Furthermore, we emphasize the critical need to standardize methods and parameters for MP characterization to improve the comparability and reproducibility of the incoming research.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Emerging Investigator Series, Contaminant remediation and fate, Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts: Recent Review Articles and Best Papers 2022 – Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts