There has recently been a noticeable increase in concern about the implications of pollution by small sized debris, especially where made up of plastic. The term “microplastic” has been introduced to describe small plastic debris commonly less than 5 mm in diameter. The concern about microplastic pollution is due to its ubiquitous presence in the marine environment. Yet it is difficult to assess its quantity because of the small size of the particles and the fact that little is known about the chemical reactions and the extent of its incorporation into the trophic chain. Investigations are also being conducted into the implications of organisms’ exposure to and intake of plastic nanoparticles, particles smaller than 1 micron. With such limited knowledge of the ultimate ecological effects of microplastics and nanoplastics, there are concerns over their potential impacts at the level of ecosystems.
From collection: Marine Litter Vital Graphics