This review provides a discussion of the published literature concerning benthic plastic debris in ocean, sea, lake, estuary and river bottoms throughout the world. Although numerous investigations of shoreline, surface and near-surface plastic debris provide important information on plastic types, distribution, accumulation, and degradation, studies of submerged plastic debris have been sporadic in the past and have become more prominent only recently. The distribution of benthic debris is controlled mainly by combinations of urban proximity and its association with fishing-related activities, geomorphology, hydrological conditions, and river input. High density plastics, biofouled products, polymers with mineral fillers or adsorbed minerals, and plastic-metal composites all have the potential to sink. Once deposited on the bottoms of water basins and channels, plastics are shielded from UV light, thus slowing the degradation process significantly. Investigations of the interactions between benthic plastic debris and bottom-dwelling organisms will help shed light on the potential dangers of submerged plastic litter.
Environmental Science : Processes & Impacts, Issue 8, 1363-1369, 2015