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      Plastic as a Persistent Marine Pollutant

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      Annual Review of Environment and Resources

      Annual Reviews

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          Biological degradation of plastics: a comprehensive review.

          Lack of degradability and the closing of landfill sites as well as growing water and land pollution problems have led to concern about plastics. With the excessive use of plastics and increasing pressure being placed on capacities available for plastic waste disposal, the need for biodegradable plastics and biodegradation of plastic wastes has assumed increasing importance in the last few years. Awareness of the waste problem and its impact on the environment has awakened new interest in the area of degradable polymers. The interest in environmental issues is growing and there are increasing demands to develop material which do not burden the environment significantly. Biodegradation is necessary for water-soluble or water-immiscible polymers because they eventually enter streams which can neither be recycled nor incinerated. It is important to consider the microbial degradation of natural and synthetic polymers in order to understand what is necessary for biodegradation and the mechanisms involved. This requires understanding of the interactions between materials and microorganisms and the biochemical changes involved. Widespread studies on the biodegradation of plastics have been carried out in order to overcome the environmental problems associated with synthetic plastic waste. This paper reviews the current research on the biodegradation of biodegradable and also the conventional synthetic plastics and also use of various techniques for the analysis of degradation in vitro.
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            Ingested microscopic plastic translocates to the circulatory system of the mussel, Mytilus edulis (L).

            Plastics debris is accumulating in the environment and is fragmenting into smaller pieces; as it does, the potential for ingestion by animals increases. The consequences of macroplastic debris for wildlife are well documented, however the impacts of microplastic (< 1 mm) are poorly understood. The mussel, Mytilus edulis, was used to investigate ingestion, translocation, and accumulation of this debris. Initial experiments showed that upon ingestion, microplastic accumulated in the gut. Mussels were subsequently exposed to treatments containing seawater and microplastic (3.0 or 9.6 microm). After transfer to clean conditions, microplastic was tracked in the hemolymph. Particles translocated from the gut to the circulatory system within 3 days and persisted for over 48 days. Abundance of microplastic was greatest after 12 days and declined thereafter. Smaller particles were more abundant than larger particles and our data indicate as plastic fragments into smaller particles, the potential for accumulation in the tissues of an organism increases. The short-term pulse exposure used here did not result in significant biological effects. However, plastics are exceedingly durable and so further work using a wider range of organisms, polymers, and periods of exposure will be required to establish the biological consequences of this debris.
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              Plastic resin pellets as a transport medium for toxic chemicals in the marine environment.

              Plastic resin pellets (small granules 0.1-0.5 centimeters in diameter) are widely distributed in the ocean all over the world. They are an industrial raw material for the plastic industry and are unintentionally released to the environment both during manufacturing and transport. They are sometimes ingested by seabirds and other marine organisms, and their adverse effects on organisms are a concern. In the present study, PCBs, DDE, and nonylphenols (NP) were detected in polypropylene (PP) resin pellets collected from four Japanese coasts. Concentrations of PCBs (4-117 ng/g), DDE (0.16-3.1 ng/g), and NP (0.13-16 microg/g) varied among the sampling sites. These concentrations were comparable to those for suspended particles and bottom sediments collected from the same area as the pellets. Field adsorption experiments using PP virgin pellets demonstrated significant and steady increase in PCBs and DDE concentrations throughout the six-day experiment, indicating that the source of PCBs and DDE is ambient seawater and that adsorption to pellet surfaces is the mechanism of enrichment. The major source of NP in the marine PP resin pellets was thought to be plastic additives and/or their degradation products. Comparison of PCBs and DDE concentrations in mari
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Environment and Resources
                Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour.
                Annual Reviews
                1543-5938
                1545-2050
                October 17 2017
                October 17 2017
                : 42
                : 1
                : 1-26
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-environ-102016-060700
                © 2017

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