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Microplastic Pollutants Highlights The Dangers Posed to the Environment and the Food Chain

By: , Posted on: February 21, 2017

microplastic pollutants

Microplastic Pollutants is a new book written by Christopher Blair Crawford, PhD researcher and Dr Brian Quinn of the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and highlights the rapidly increasing problem of microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment.

Microplastic Pollutants, which was published on 28 November 2016 by Elsevier, introduces the reader to the growing problem of microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment and is dedicated exclusively to this subject. Furthermore, this multidisciplinary book highlights the recent realisation that microplastics may transport toxic chemicals into food chains around the world.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are commonly found in the environment. Indeed, microplastics have been detected on practically every beach in the world, as well as on the surface waters of the world’s lakes and oceans and even within the polar ice caps. Unfortunately, these small pieces of plastic pose a significant risk to aquatic life because they are often mistaken as food and readily consumed. This can lead to blockages in the animal and since the plastic has no nutritional content, starvation may also result. Moreover, microplastics have a tendency to pick up toxic chemical pollutants from the water. By various processes, these harmful chemicals have the potential to be transferred from ingested microplastics to the tissues of the animals which consume them. Importantly, these chemicals may even be transferred up the food chain with increasing danger.

Microplastics originate from a variety of sources, and exist in many different forms. For example, very small spherical pieces of plastic, termed microbeads are often added to personal care products, such as face scrubs and toothpastes, as well as cosmetics in order to improve their properties. It has been estimated that consumers in the United Kingdom use around 680 tonnes of microbeads per year, many of which are subsequently washed down the sink. Unfortunately, these pieces of plastic are so small that they escape capture at water treatment facilities and are simply flushed out to sea.

Microplastic pollutants are a very important topic in both industry and academia, as well as among legislative bodies, and research in this area is gaining considerable attention from both the worldwide media and scientific community on a rapidly increasing scale.

Commenting on the publication, Christopher Blair Crawford, whose doctoral research is joint-funded by Marine Scotland Science and UWS said: “As the first ever book dedicated exclusively to the subject of microplastics, it is my hope that by reading this book you will gain a greater awareness of the dangers posed by microplastics and ultimately, help bring the world’s attention upon the issue of microplastic pollutants.”

Commenting on the publication, Dr Quinn of the University’s School of Science and Sport said: “This book is particularly timely given the increasing understanding of microplastics and the threat they pose not only to aquatic life but also humans as toxic chemicals may be entering the worldwide food chain.”

microplastic pollutants

Microplastic Pollutants offers a detailed chronological history of plastic materials from their creation until the present day and provides an extensive review and discussion of the existing literature on the interactions of microplastics with chemical pollutants and their effects on aquatic life. Detailed multidisciplinary information on the way in which plastic materials and microplastics behave in the aquatic environment is also provided, as well as an explanation and provision of the techniques used for the detection, separation and identification of microplastics. Ultimately, this book provides an excellent source of reference and information on microplastics for scientists, engineers, students, industry, policy makers and citizens alike.

For more information Microplastic Pollutants, visit ScienceDirect for available chapters.

To buy the book visit Elsevier Store and use discount code STC317 at checkout and save up to 30% on your own copy!

Christopher Blair Crawford is available to provide further comments and information. Please email to arrange an interview.

About the authors:

Chirs CrawfordChristopher Blair Crawford. PhD Researcher in Chemistry and award winning Scientist. As an experienced researcher and having achieved three Distinctions and two University Medals, he works in partnership with the government at his research institution in actively investigating the possible chemical interactions of microplastics and pollutants and identifying their potential as vectors for the uptake and trophic transfer of contaminants in the aquatic environment.

brian quinnBrian Quinn PhD. – Researcher in Biology and award winning Ecotoxicologist. With experience in both the government and academic sector, he has been published over 25 times, is an active peer reviewer across 18 journals and has attracted 1.5 million in grants to fund his research investigating the biological impacts of contaminants in the aquatic environment. He is currently leading the MASTS Scottish Microplastics Research group.

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