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Review

Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment—The Occurrence, Sources, Ecological Impacts, Fate, and Remediation Challenges

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Department of Physical and Earth Sciences, Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley 8300, South Africa
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Institute for Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, University of South Africa, Johannesburg 1709, South Africa
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Department of Polymer Technology and Engineering, Harare Institute of Technology, Belvedere P.O. Box BE 277, Harare, Zimbabwe
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Department of Physics, Geography and Environmental Science, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo P.O. Box 1235, Zimbabwe
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Biosystems and Environmental Engineering Research Group, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, Mt. Pleasant Box MP 167, Harare, Zimbabwe
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Science and Education Development Institute, Akure 340001, Nigeria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paolo Pastorino
Received: 19 April 2021 / Revised: 12 June 2021 / Accepted: 16 June 2021 / Published: 18 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Pollutants)
Microplastics are discharged into the environment through human activities and are persistent in the environment. With the prevalent use of plastic-based personal protective equipment in the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the concentration of microplastics in the environment is envisaged to increase. Potential ecological and health risks emanate from their potential to adsorb and transport toxic chemicals, and ease of absorption into the cells of living organisms and interfering with physiological processes. This review (1) discusses sources and pathways through which microplastics enter the environment, (2) evaluates the fate and behavior of microplastics, (3) discusses microplastics in African aquatic systems, and (4) identifies research gaps and recommends remediation strategies. Importantly, while there is significant microplastics pollution in the aquatic environment, pollution in terrestrial systems are not widely studied. Besides, there is a dearth of information on microplastics in African aquatic systems. The paper recommends that the governments and non-governmental organizations should fund research to address knowledge gaps, which include: (1) the environmental fate of microplastics, (2) conducting toxicological studies under environmentally relevant conditions, (3) investigating toxicity mechanisms to biota, and developing mitigation measures to safeguard human health, and (4) investigating pollutants transported by microplastics. Moreover, regulatory measures, along with the circular economy strategies, may help reduce microplastic pollution. View Full-Text
Keywords: contamination; degradation; plastics; water pollution contamination; degradation; plastics; water pollution
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chaukura, N.; Kefeni, K.K.; Chikurunhe, I.; Nyambiya, I.; Gwenzi, W.; Moyo, W.; Nkambule, T.T.I.; Mamba, B.B.; Abulude, F.O. Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment—The Occurrence, Sources, Ecological Impacts, Fate, and Remediation Challenges. Pollutants 2021, 1, 95-118. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/pollutants1020009

AMA Style

Chaukura N, Kefeni KK, Chikurunhe I, Nyambiya I, Gwenzi W, Moyo W, Nkambule TTI, Mamba BB, Abulude FO. Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment—The Occurrence, Sources, Ecological Impacts, Fate, and Remediation Challenges. Pollutants. 2021; 1(2):95-118. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/pollutants1020009

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chaukura, Nhamo, Kebede K. Kefeni, Innocent Chikurunhe, Isaac Nyambiya, Willis Gwenzi, Welldone Moyo, Thabo T.I. Nkambule, Bhekie B. Mamba, and Francis O. Abulude 2021. "Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment—The Occurrence, Sources, Ecological Impacts, Fate, and Remediation Challenges" Pollutants 1, no. 2: 95-118. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/pollutants1020009

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