Microplastics in sediments: A review of techniques, occurrence and effects

For the Marine Environmental Research Special Issue on “Particles in Oceans”, we contributed with a comprehensive review on microplastics in sediments. For this review we analysed literature dating back to the 1970s, in order to gain insights in the worldwide occurrence of microplastics in sediments, processes that drive their distribution and effects of this type of pollution on sediment associated organisms. Based on this extensive literature review (over 120 publications), we were able to identify several shortcomings in microplastics research and formulate recommendations to deal with these issues in the future. Although important advances have been made in the past decade, we describe the need for standardisation and harmonisation of sampling and extraction techniques, and the need for more realistic effect assessments for microplastics.

Scientific abstract

Microplastics are omnipresent in the marine environment and sediments are hypothesized to be major sinks of these plastics. Here, over 100 articles spanning the last 50 year are reviewed with following objectives: (i) to evaluate current microplastic extraction techniques, (ii) to discuss the occurrence and worldwide distribution of microplastics in sediments, and (iii) to make a comprehensive assessment of the possible adverse effects of this type of pollution to marine organisms. Based on this review we propose future research needs and conclude that there is a clear need for a standardized techniques, unified reporting units and more realistic effect assessments.

Full reference (link)

Van Cauwenberghe, L., Devriese, L., Galgani, F., Robbens, J., Janssen, C.R., Microplastics in sediments: A review of techniques, occurrence and effects, Marine Environmental Research (Accepted article)