Plastics at sea (microplastics) : a potential risk for Hong Kong

Plastics are cheap and convenient materials that are widely adopted in our daily applications. High production and consumption of plastics, however, are resulting in the issue of marine plastic pollution. Plastic debris is often divided into two categories: macroplastics and microplastics. Macroplastic is a well-known international problem to the world’s oceans, while microplastics often receive less attention. Many coastal areas and remote islands are suffering from plastic pollution. Marine plastic debris is responsible for negative impacts on organisms and the environment, including entanglement, ingestion, absorption of toxic chemicals, and transportation of invasive species. Human society and the economy may also be threatened. It is noticed that impacts caused by microplastics are comparatively more critical than those caused by macroplastics. Microscopic size and large surface area to volume ratio increase the potential for microplastics being ingested or used as vectors to absorb chemicals. Micro particles may enter the circulatory system, cause damage to cells and tissues, and release contaminated chemicals to the body, and hence result in health and safety issues. Ingested plastics may undergo bioaccumulation and pass up the food web, which may influence the entire ecosystem as well as human populations. (…)

Lee, Hiu-yan, Jessica, The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong), Master of Science in Environmental Management, 2013

The thesis

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