Advances in Microplastic Study: Occurrence, Fate, Assessment, and Impacts on the Environment


Chihhao Fan
Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei, 10617 Taiwan ROC


The issue of plastic waste generation has drawn a great deal of attention since their ubiquitous existence in the environment. Plastic waste may form microplastics (i.e., < 5 mm in size) through photodegradation, mechanistic forces, climatic weathering, and biodegradation. Microplastics have been observed urban drainage, wastewater effluents, shorelines, deep oceans, high mountains, and polar regions. Due to their small sizes and potential toxicological characteristics, they were reported to be transported through atmospheric and oceanic currents and harmful to living organisms. Once entering the food web, they can be accumulated in high trophic levels of consumers. In light of the above information, this presentation summarized several investigations of ours on the related issues of microplastics, including their transport and fate under the impacts of COVID and climate change. Experimental studies on the microplastic assessment were also described. Methodologies for ambient microplastic sampling, characterization, and quantification were also introduced. To be more specific, a sampling protocol for environmental microplastics were proposed. FTIR were proved to be able to differential one microplastic from another. Optical and thermal gravity analysis were found applicable to quantify selected environmental microplastics. For risk management of microplastics, quantification of each constituent of environmental microplastics, combining the toxicological parameter, seems necessary in risk calculation and assessment.

November 3, 2022