Plastic pollutants in water environment

Bożena Mrowiec 1
  • 1 University of Bielsko-Biala, Institute of Environmental Protection and Engineering, Faculty of Materials, Civil and Environmental Engineering, 43-309, Bielsko-Biala, Poland


Nowadays, wide applications of plastics result in plastic waste being present in the water environment in a wide variety of sizes. Plastic wastes are in water mainly as microplastics (the size range of 1 nm to < 5 mm). Microplastics have been recognized as an emerging threat, as well as ecotoxicological and ecological risk for water ecosystems. In this review are presented some of the physicochemical properties of plastic materials that determine their toxic effect on the aquatic environment. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are mentioned as one of main sources of microplastics introduced into fresh water, and rivers are the pathways for the transportation of the pollutants to seas and oceans. But, effluents from tertiary wastewater treatment facilities can contain only minimally microplastic loads. The issue of discharge reduction of plastic pollutants into water environment needs activities in the scope of efficient wastewater treatment, waste disposal, recycling of plastic materials, education and public involvement.

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