Microplastics as an emerging contaminant of concern to our environment: a brief overview of the sources and implications

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Over the years, it has become evident that microplastics are one of the most important contaminants of concern requiring significant attention. The large abundance of microplastics that are currently in the environment poses potential toxicity risks to all organisms that are exposed to them. Microplastics have been found to affect the physiological and biological processes in marine and terrestrial organisms. As well as being a contaminant of concern in itself, microplastics also have the ability to act as vectors for other contaminants. The potential for microplastics to carry pollutants and transfer them to other organisms has been documented in the literature. Microplastics have also been linked to hosting antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes which poses a significant risk to the current health system. There has been a significant increase in research published surrounding the topic of microplastics over the last 5 years. As such, it is difficult to determine and find up to date and relevant information. This overview paper aims to provide a snapshot of the current and emerging sources of microplastics, how microplastics can act as a contaminant and have toxic effects on a range of organisms and also be a vector for a large variety of other contaminants of concern. The aim of this paper is to act as a tool for future research to reference relevant and recent literature in this field.

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