Microplastics Research Trends in Korea


Sun Kyoung Shin
National Institute of Environmental Research


Plastics have been used in large quantities due to their convenience, but management in consideration of environmental impacts is insufficient. With an increasing use of plastic, considerable plastic waste is generated, threatening the environment and public health. In particular, changes in living patterns in urban areas have significantly impacted the rate at which plastic waste increases every year. Thus, governments in many developed countries have implemented numerous policies to reduce plastic waste generation. Two classifications of microplastics are currently recognized. Primary microplastics include any plastic fragments or particles that are already 5.0 mm in size or less before entering the environment. These include microfibers from clothing, microbeads, and plastic pellets. Secondary microplastics arise from the degradation of larger plastic products through natural weathering processes after entering the environment. Such sources of secondary microplastics include water and soda bottles, fishing nets, plastic bags, microwave containers, tea bags, and tire wear. Both types are recognized to persist in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems, where they cause water pollution.

November 3, 2022