Importance of microplastics as environmental contaminants of regional and global concern

The SETAC Latin America 11th Biennial Meeting will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 7-10 September 2015 :

Track session: Aquatic Toxicology and Ecology

Microplastics (MP) are small (< 5 mm diameter) plastic debris which are widespread in aquatic environments and may be responsible for negative effects in organisms. These particles are either manufactured (e.g. plastic pellets and microbeads) or the result of fragmentation of larger debris, and they can be transported far from their release source leading to contamination of even pristine areas (such as polar regions). Ingestion of MPs by organisms has been documented, but effects on organisms are unresolved. Major concerns of MPs include distribution and accumulation of particles in aquatic habitats, transport of toxic substances associated with MPs, and toxicity in organisms either from MPs or the associated toxicants. The presence of MPs in aquatic environments is now recognised as among the highest international issues for environmental science and policy at regional and global levels, and must be addressed by international and cross-disciplinary collaborations. Ongoing research on MPs has been receiving considerable interest in other prestigious international meetings, including dedicated sessions at SETAC North America and SETAC Europe in 2014. Engagement of the scientific community to address environmental concerns of MPs, together with an increased public awareness, have already contributed to changes in waste management policies, although only in a limited number of countries. This session aims to provide a forum for presentation of results from recent studies on: 1) the presence and abundance of MPs in aquatic environments, 2) the association of toxicants with plastic debris and the consequences on the transport of these substances, 3) the effects of MPs in organisms and 4) ongoing efforts by the scientific community on communicating this issue to the general public and authorities. Presentations which address topics related to sources, distribution and effects associated with MPs in aquatic habitats are encouraged for submission.


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