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  • EPA Microplastic Workshop Fact Sheet YOU CAN’T MANAGE WHAT YOU CAN’T MEASURE

    Facts about Plastic Particle Pollution

    Microplastics: A Call To Action – A workshop hosted by Draper on October 4, 2018 This document is available at

    What we know:

    • Plastic production continues to increase annually. [1] • Plastic waste collection does not guarantee plastic waste recycling – and unlike glass and metals

    there are severe limits to plastic recycling. [2-4] • Plastics of varying size are found in many aquatic habitats and in wildlife. [5-13] • Plastic ingestion and/or entanglement can be fatal to wildlife. [5-7] • Plastic waste in the environment sorbs pollutants and contaminants. [14-17] • Plastic products contain chemical additives. [18-20] • Plastic wastes are a potential source of chemical toxicity to humans and animals. [21,22]

    What we don’t know (and need to learn):

    • Where and how much of the primary plastic waste escapes the post-consumer disposal chain? • Where are the areas of greatest accumulation of plastic (macro to micro) on land, and in our

    oceans, rivers and lakes? • How much plastic is in the water columns of our oceans, in the sediment and on the sea floor? • Do plastic particles act as a carrier for chemicals/contaminants into organism tissue and organs? • How do we standardize analytical methodologies to provide consistent, repeatable and

    representative environmental samples to best understand the risk due to exposure to microplastics and associated toxicity?

  • References for Facts about Plastic Particle Pollution

    Microplastics: A Call To Action – A workshop hosted by Draper on October 4, 2018 This document is available at

    Worldwide production of plastic continues to grow with China, Europe, and North America as the largest producers. The total tonnage is very difficult to pinpoint and estimates range between 300 and 400 million metric tons (2015). What is more important is our significant reliance on this material and the fact that a large fraction is intended for “single use”. 1.

    Approximately 10% of plastic waste in the U.S. and 31% in the EU (2016) is collected for recycling. The amount of plastic that is actually recycled is unknown due to the challenges of plastic waste stream management. The remaining portion is landfilled or incinerated. The amount of plastic waste that escapes solid waste management systems needs further study. 2. Ragaert K, Delva L, Van Geem K. 2017. Mechanical and chemical recycling of solid plastic waste. Waste Management. 69:24-58. 3. Hopewell J, Dvorak R, Kosior E. 2009. Plastics recycling: challenges and opportunities. Philosophical Transactions B The Royal Society.

    364(1526)2115-2126. 4. Grigore ME, 2017. Methods of Recycling, Properties and Applications of Recycled Thermoplastic Polymers. Recycling. 2, 24:1-11.

    Ingestion of large quantities of plastic and has resulted in wildlife mortality in many reported incidents. Microplastics can be classified as plastic particles less than 1mm in diameter and are found in nearly all waterways and oceans, in beaches and sediments. Microplastics have also been found in wildlife and their impact on wildlife health needs greater study. 5. Provencher JF, Bond AL, Avery-Gomm S, Borrelle SB, Bravo Rebolledo EL, Hammer S, Kuhn S, Lavers JL, Mallory ML, Trevail A, van Franeke JA.

    2017. Quantifying ingested debris in marine megafauna: a review and recommendations for standardization. Anal Methods. 9:1454-1469. 6. Browne MA, Underwood AJ, Chapman AG, Williams R, Thompson RC, van Franeker JA. 2015. Linking effects of anthropogenic debris to ecological

    impacts. Proc Royal Soc. B. 282(1807). 7. Wagner M, Scherer C, Alvarez-Munoz D, Brenholt N, Bourain X, Buchinger S, Fries E, Grosbois C, Klasmeier J, Marti T, Rodriguez-Mozaz S, Urbatzka

    R, Vethaak AD, Winther-Nielsen M, Reifferscheid G. 2014. Microplastics in freshwater ecosystems: what we know and what we need to know. Environmental Sciences Europe. (2014) 26:12.

    8. Wagner J, Wang ZM, Ghosal S, Rochman C, Gassel M, Wall S. 2017. Novel method for the extraction and identification of microplastics in ocean trawl and fish gut matrices. Anal Methods. 9: 1479-1490.

    9. Ghosal S, Chen M, Wagner J, Wang ZM, Wall S. 2018. Molecular identification of polymers and anthropogenic particles extracted from oceanic water and fish stomach – a Raman micro-spectroscopy study. Environmental Pollution. 233(2018)1113-1124.

    10. Goldstein MC, Goodwin DS. 2013. Gooseneck barnacles (Lepas spp.) ingest microplastic debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Peer J. Vol.1 e184.

    11. Choy CA, Drazen J. 2013. Plastic for dinner? Observations of frequent debris ingestion by pelagic predatory fishes from the central North Pacific. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 485: 155-163.

    12. Rapp DC, Youngren SM, Hartzell P, Hyrenbach KD. 2017. Community-wide patterns of plastic ingestion in seabirds breeding at French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 123: 269-278.

    13. Phuong NN, Poirer L, Lagarde F, Kamari A, Zalouk-Vergnoux, A, 2018. Microplastic abundance and characteristics in French Atlantic coastal sediments using a new extraction method. Environmental Pollution. 243: 228-237.

    Plastic waste in water absorbs many toxic chemicals, such as DDT, PCBs, dioxins, pesticides, and flame retardants, that exist in the ocean in varying concentrations. In controlled studies, these chemicals have been shown to release from plastic after it is ingested by a variety of marine species. 14. Engler RE. 2012. The complex interaction between marine debris and toxic chemicals in the ocean. Environ Sci Technol. 46: 12303-12315. 15. Rochman CM, Hoh E, Hentschel BT, Kaye S. 2013. Long-term field measurement of sorption of organic contaminants to five types of plastic

    pellets: implications for plastic marine debris. Environ Sci Technol. (2013) 47:1646–54. 16. Rochman CM, Lewison RL, Eriksen M, Allen H, Cook AM, Teh SJ. 2014. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in fish tissue may be an indicator

    of plastic contamination in marine habitats. Science Total Environment. 476-477 (2014) 622-633. 17. Gassel M, Harwani S, Park JS, Jahn A. 2013. Detection of nonylphenol and persistent organic pollutants in fish from the North Pacific Central Gyre.

    Mar Pollut Bull. (2013) 73:231–42.

    Plastics are manufactured with additives to enhance their functionality and performance. Toxic additives, such as BPA, PBDEs and PCBs are known to leach from plastic in the recycling process and unintentionally from plastic waste in marine environments. 18. Wagner J, Ghosal S, Whitehead T, Metayer C. 2013. Morphology, spatial distribution, and concentration of flame retardants in consumer products

    and environmental dusts using scanning electron microscopy and Raman micro-spectroscopy. Env Intern. 59 (2013) 16-26. 19. Hahladakis JN, Velis CA, Weber R, Iacovidou E, Purnell P. 2017. An overview of chemical additives present in plastics: Migration, release, fate and

    environmental impact during their use, disposal and recycling. J Hazard Mater. 344:179-199. 20. Hermabessiere L, Dehaut A, Paul-Pont I, Lacroix C, Jezequel R, Soudant P, Duflos G. 2017. Occurrence and effects of plastic additives on marine

    environments and organisms: A review. Chemosphere. 182:781-793.

    Microplastics containing additives and sorbed toxic chemicals have been shown to degrade health and cause mortality in fish and other aquatic wildlife. 21. Rochman CM, Hoh E, Kurobe T, Teh SJ. 2013. Ingested plastic transfers contaminants to fish and induces hepatic stress. Nat Sci Rep. (2013)

    3:3263. 22. EPA. 2016. State of the Science White Paper: a summary of literature on the chemical toxicity of plastic pollution to aquatic life and aquatic-

    dependent wildlife. EPA-822-R-16-009.

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