Proceedings of the International Conference on Microplastic Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea

This book focuses on different aspects of microplastic pollution, offering authors and readers the opportunity to share their knowledge, identify issues and propose solutions and actions to face this environmental threat. Although plastic pollution is a well-known global problem, the recent discovery of microplastics and nanoplastics in seas and oceans represents a very alarming new environmental challenge. The book offers comprehensive insights into the origins of the problem, its impact on marine environments, particularly the Mediterranean Sea and coasts, and the current research trends aimed at finding technical solutions to mitigate the phenomenon.

Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA). Editors : Mariacristina Cocca, Emilia Di Pace, Maria Emanuela Errico, Gennaro Gentile, Alessio Montarsolo, Raffaella Mossotti, 2018

The book

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Understanding the Risks of Microplastics: A Social-Ecological Risk Perspective

This chapter deals with these questions by adopting a social-ecological perspective, discussing microplastics as a global risk. Taking four main characteristics of global risks, we develop four arguments to discuss (a) the everyday production of risk by societies, (b) scientific risk evaluation of microplastics, (c) social responses, and (d) problems of risk management. To illustrate these four issues, we draw on different aspects of the current scientific and public debate. In doing so, we contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the social-ecological implications of microplastics.

Johanna Kramm, Carolin Völker, Freshwater Microplastics pp 223-237, Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 58),

The chapter

The Ecology of Sandy Shores

A variety of anthropogenic pressures act on sandy beaches. The main stressors impinge on beaches over a range of temporal and spatial scales from short-term local (e.g., trampling) to truly long-term global (e.g., climate change and sea-level rise). These pressures translate into ecological impacts that are manifested across several dimensions in time and space. Press perturbations (operating on time scales of years to decades) causing permanent changes in sandy-beach ecosystems are becoming increasingly common. Field and laboratory experiments with robust sampling designs and monitoring programs are being increasingly employed to quantify the effects of different stressors. However, long-term data sets directed to assess human impacts on beaches are scarce and fragmentary. Such analysis will vary according to the magnitude of the impact and the organizational level being considered, and this must be linked to recognition of a physical–biological coupling at different scales. The evidence provided indicates that sandy beaches are ecosystems at risk and deserve more attention than given at present.

The Ecology of Sandy Shores (Third Edition), 2018, Pages 375–420, Chapter 15 – Human Impacts, Anton McLachlan, Omar Defeo

The chapter

Occurrence of Marine Litter in the Marine Environment: A World Panorama of Floating and Seafloor Plastics

The marine environment is directly linked to human life. Healthy oceans have always been important to mankind as all life depends on them. Nowadays, marine litter, mainly plastic, is found widespread in the environment, in all sea compartments, posing one of the major threats for the marine environment. To date, the fate of this litter is still questionable and the identification of areas where litter permanently accumulates is a major challenge.

In the present chapter, a world panorama is given in respect to the occurrence of floating and seafloor plastics. Information on floating micro-, meso-, and macro-plastics is given, as well as information on plastics of size bigger than 10 mm lying on the seafloor (shallow waters, continental shelf, deep-sea environments) of world’s seas.

Christos Ioakeimidis, François Galgani, George Papatheodorou, Chapter, Part of the series The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry pp 1-28, Date: 30 April 2017

The chapter

Additives and Chemicals in Plastics

Global production of plastics is clearly on the increase and plastic products have become an inextricable part of our everyday life. Over a short span of about 75 years plastics have penetrated diverse application areas replacing conventional materials quite successfully. Continued growth in production is expected in the medium term but questions on the sustainability of plastics are being raised. A key aspect of sustainability of plastics and rubber materials is their potential environmental toxicity and in particular human toxicity. Plastic resins, however, are nontoxic materials, composed of macromolecules that are neither digestible nor absorbable in the gut. Toxicity of plastics often observed is attributed to the numerous additives mixed in with the resin during processing and fabrication of products, the residual monomers, or catalysts trapped in the resin and the chemicals picked up by the plastics from the environment. Of these, the additives are present at the highest concentrations in plastic products. Knowing and evaluating the additives commonly used, their potential toxicity, and their intake routes to human users are essential for the sustainability of plastics.

Anthony L. Andrady, Nepali Rajapakse, Chapter, Part of the series The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry pp 1-17, Date: 22 April 2017

The chapter

Degradation of Various Plastics in the Environment

It is very important to understand the interaction between plastics and environment in ambient conditions. The plastics degrade because of this interaction and often their surface properties change resulting in the creation of new functional groups. The plastics after this change continue to interact with the environment and biota. It is a dynamic situation with continuous changing parameters. Polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) degrade through the mechanisms of photo-, thermal, and biodegradation. The three polymers degrade with different rates and different pathways. Under normal conditions, photo- and thermal degradation are similar. For polyethylene, photo-degradation results in sharper peaks in the bands which represent ketones, esters, acids, etc. on their infrared spectrum. The same is true for poly propylene but this polymer is more resistant to photo-degradation. The photo-oxidation of PET involves the formation of hydroperoxide species through oxidation of the CH2 groups adjacent to the ester linkages and the hydroperoxides species involving the formation of photoproducts through several pathways. For the three polymers, interaction with microbes and formation of biofilms are different. Generally, biodegradation results in the decrease of carbonyl indices if the sample has already been photo-degraded by exposure to UV. Studies with environmental samples agree with these findings but the degradation of plastics is very subjective to the local environmental conditions that are usually a combination of those simulated in laboratory conditions. For example, some studies suggested that fragmentation of plastic sheet by solar radiation can occur within months to a couple of years on beaches, whereas PET bottles stay intact over 15 years on sea bottoms.

Kalliopi N. Fotopoulou, Hrissi K. Karapanagioti, Chapter, Part of the series The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, pp 1-22, Date: 13 April 2017

The chapter

Characterization and Analysis of Microplastics

This book aims to fulfill the gap on the existence of published analytical methodologies for the identification and quantification of microplastics. This overview includes the following main topics: introduction to the fate and behavior of microplastics in the environment, assessment of sampling techniques and sample handling, morphological, physical, and chemical characterization of microplastics, and the role of laboratory experiments in the validation of field data.

The characterization and analysis of microplastics is a hot topic considering the current need for reliable data on concentrations of microplastics in environmental compartments. This book presents a comprehensive overview of the analytical techniques and future perspectives of analytical methodologies in the field.

Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry, Volume 75, Pages 1-286 (2017), edited by Teresa A.P. Rocha-Santos and Armando C. Duarte, ISBN: 978-0-444-63898-4

The book