Microplastic Pollutants in Aquatic Ecosystems: Present and Future Challenges

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2023) | Viewed by 30318

Special Issue Editors

School of Hydrology and Water Resources (Eco-hydrology Group), Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Ningliu Road No. 219, Nanjing 210044, China
Interests: microplastics; GHG emissions; water quality; water resources; environmental sustainability; forestry; carbon neutrality; biogeochemical cycling
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Guest Editor
National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India
Interests: water resources; ground water; pollution transport; heavy metal; water quality; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Microplastics (MPs) are becoming a crucial issue in the scientific community due to their persistence in the aquatic and terrestrial environments. MP debris is an environmentally persistent and increasing global concern. Understanding the key sources of MPs as well as their composition and abundance in the environment is a huge challenge for environmentalists as well as water resources planners and managers because millions of tonnes of plastic material are manufactured annually, particularly in developing counties. The majority of microplastics research has been focused on the marine environment, and little attention has been given to freshwater bodies, despite the fact that terrestrial and freshwater are recognized as points of origin and major transport pathways of microplastics to marine ecosystems. The literature reveals that there is still a comparative lack of knowledge about these environmental compartments. It is highly likely that, due to anthropogenic disturbances and the excessive use of MP products, these synthetic plastics will accumulate within freshwater bodies and alter aquatic life. Recently, MPs have been detected in drinking water and its sources, representing a current hot topic of discussion regarding implications for human health. Since there is no standard protocol for extraction, identification, and sampling methods, the quality of MPs’ occurrences is unknown to be explored by young scientists. This Special Issue aims to support future research on MP contamination in freshwater ecosystems, and to further present the current knowledge and future climatic risks which could affect water resources globally in due course of time if strategic mitigation measures are not taken in advance.

In this Special Issue, we aim to collect original research articles, reviews, mini reviews, viewpoints, etc. on topics including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Methods for microplastic analysis in freshwater bodies;
  • Present and future insights related to microplastics in aquatic ecosystems;
  • Distribution of microplastics in aquatic environments;
  • The effect of microplastics on the occurrence of heavy metal contamination;
  • The effects of microplastics on aquatic biodiversity;
  • Pragmatic solutions for microplastic accumulation in aquatic environments;
  • Microplastics;
  • Heavy metals;
  • Climate change;
  • Groundwater pollution;
  • Modelling and tools;
  • Freshwater ecosystem;
  • Mitigation measures;
  • Occurrence and transport.

Dr. Amit Kumar
Dr. Gopal Krishan
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • microplastics
  • freshwater
  • contamination
  • water resources
  • heavy metals
  • rivers
  • lakes
  • reservoirs
  • mitigation measures
  • emerging contaminants

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 759 KiB  
Editorial
Microplastic Pollutants in Aquatic Ecosystems: Present and Future Challenges
by Amit Kumar and Gopal Krishan
Water 2024, 16(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16010102 - 27 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1421
Abstract
Microplastics (MPs), an emerging contaminant in aquatic environments, are the cause of ecological and climatic risk and have thus become a hot topic for the global scientific community [...] Full article
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Research

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15 pages, 1298 KiB  
Article
Domestic Garbage Classification and Incentive-Based Policies in China: An Empirical Analysis
by Yang Shen, Tao Zhu, Rupesh Kumar, Amit Kumar and Shaojun Chen
Water 2023, 15(23), 4074; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15234074 - 24 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1743
Abstract
In recent decades, with the rising living standards of rural China, the amount and volume of household waste has increased continuously, causing serious environmental and human health risks. Effective garbage classification reduces garbage volume, decreases the difficulty of garbage disposal, and facilitates the [...] Read more.
In recent decades, with the rising living standards of rural China, the amount and volume of household waste has increased continuously, causing serious environmental and human health risks. Effective garbage classification reduces garbage volume, decreases the difficulty of garbage disposal, and facilitates the recycling of resources, thereby improving environmental quality. Domestic garbage classification (DGC) has been practiced frequently in developed countries and is now at a relatively mature stage. There is no robust model for garbage classification available globally as of yet, and each country has its policy frameworks to reduce, recycle, and reuse (3R) garbage. Little attention has been paid to knowing whether and to what extent incentive-based policies called “rewards and punishments” improve garbage classification and further help achieve targets of sustainable development goals (SDGs). Recently, developing countries, like China, have begun to incorporate DGC into their laws and promote enforcement measures in a few cities. However, empirical studies on residents’ willingness to accept DGC punishments and rewards are still relatively scarce and a hot topic of global scientific discussion. To enrich the knowledge, this study collected datasets from 9983 valid questionnaires from east China (16 selected independent variables), and analyzed the key factors affecting residents’ acceptance of punishments and rewards, employing logit models. The results found that the level of education plays an important role for residents that are more inclined to accept DGC rewards and punishments. Moreover, farmers were insensitive to DGC rewards but very sensitive and unsupportive of punishments, and the hardware facilities of the quarter had a greater impact on residents’ willingness to accept DGC rewards and punishments. Findings recommend that rewards be the main focus and punishments be supplemented, thus the incentive-based policies should be improved through law enforcement and implementation of robust policy frameworks in order to promote residents’ acceptance of rewards and punishments and to accelerate better garbage classification. Full article
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13 pages, 4665 KiB  
Article
Effects of Spontaneous Fluorescent Polystyrene on Nostocaceae and Daphnia Magna
by Shaolin Qiu, Wenjiao Yuan, Yujie Qin, Xin Feng, Meitong Li and Yuhong Xie
Water 2023, 15(9), 1744; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15091744 - 30 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1917
Abstract
Microplastic pollution is widespread around the world and inevitably comes into contact with organisms. With the accumulation of microplastics in the environment, the negative impact of microplastics on organisms has become the main focus in the field of microplastics. In this study, the [...] Read more.
Microplastic pollution is widespread around the world and inevitably comes into contact with organisms. With the accumulation of microplastics in the environment, the negative impact of microplastics on organisms has become the main focus in the field of microplastics. In this study, the different particle and concentration effects of fluorescent polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) on Nostocaceae and Daphnia Magna were researched. The results indicate that PS-MPs adhered to Nostocaceae through static electricity, which hindered the absorption of photons and CO2 by Nostocaceae, resulting in a decrease in chlorophyll, a low growth rate and high mortality for Nostocaceae. PS-MPs with very small particles may be integrated into the blood of Daphnia Magna, leading to an increasing trend of mortality and a decrease in spawning rate. The research provides basic data and a reference for the effect of PS-MPs on freshwater organisms and has implications for the further study of microplastics. Full article
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11 pages, 4424 KiB  
Article
Research Progress and Trend of Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution from Non-Irrigated Farming Based on Bibliometrics
by Dan Liu, Zhongkai Yao, Xiaoxia Yang, Chunmei Xiong and Qingyu Nie
Water 2023, 15(8), 1610; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15081610 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2452
Abstract
The agricultural non-point source (NPS) pollution caused by non-irrigated farming, such as heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorus, has posed an extreme threat to the security of agricultural product quality and watershed ecology. Thus, it is urgent to sort out the latest research progress [...] Read more.
The agricultural non-point source (NPS) pollution caused by non-irrigated farming, such as heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorus, has posed an extreme threat to the security of agricultural product quality and watershed ecology. Thus, it is urgent to sort out the latest research progress and future development trend to effectively guide future scientific research and technological updates in this field. This study integrates the relevant literature of the Web of Science from 1976 to 2021 and analyzes the research hotspots and development trends in the field of agricultural NPS pollution from non-irrigated farming in combination with CiteSpace. The results showed that the proportion of publications from the United States and China accounted for 58.4%. Science of the Total Environment, Water Science and Technology and Journal of the American Water Resources Association were the most published journals. The research topics and hotspots mainly involve agricultural NPS pollution prevention technology, pollution source identification, pollution load and management and landscape pattern evolution. In the future, agricultural NPS pollution research in non-irrigated farming should combine agricultural big data platforms, spectroscopic methods, artificial intelligence technology, etc. and focus on strengthening soil testing formula fertilization management, the efficient use of livestock and poultry breeding manure, climate change and risk early warning. Full article
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15 pages, 2040 KiB  
Article
Abundance of Microplastics in Two Venus Clams (Meretrix lyrata and Paratapes undulatus) from Estuaries in Central Vietnam
by Quynh Anh Tran-Nguyen, Tuan Quy Nguyen, Thao Linh Thi Phan, Minh Van Vo and Mau Trinh-Dang
Water 2023, 15(7), 1312; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15071312 - 27 Mar 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2291
Abstract
This study investigated the presence of microplastics in two common edible bivalves in Vietnam, the hard clam (Meretrix lyrata) and the undulate venus clam (Paratapes undulatus), from two estuaries in Da Nang city. Microplastics were detected in both species [...] Read more.
This study investigated the presence of microplastics in two common edible bivalves in Vietnam, the hard clam (Meretrix lyrata) and the undulate venus clam (Paratapes undulatus), from two estuaries in Da Nang city. Microplastics were detected in both species with relatively high concentrations—from 2.17 ± 0.43 to 2.38 ± 1.28 items g−1 in the undulate venus clams and from 4.71 ± 2.15 to 5.36 ± 2.69 items g−1 in the hard clams. Fibers were the most dominant form of microplastic in both clams, and a high proportion were fibers with sizes from 300 μm to 1500 μm. An estimation of microplastic intake in Vietnamese consumers’ bodies from clam consumption was made, which showed an average ingestion of 2489 items person−1 year−1. Our study is also the first global record of microplastic distribution characteristics in the undulate venus clam Paratapes undulatus. Full article
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8 pages, 1440 KiB  
Communication
Adsorption of Reactive Red 120 Dye by Polyamide Nylon 6 Microplastics: Isotherm, Kinetic, and Thermodynamic Analysis
by Desara Afmataj, Olympia Kordera, Angeliki Maragkaki, Vasileios A. Tzanakakis, Ioannis Pashalidis, Dimitrios Kalderis and Ioannis Anastopoulos
Water 2023, 15(6), 1137; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061137 - 15 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1827
Abstract
In this work, we investigated the effect of various adsorption parameters (solution pH, temperature, contact time, and the presence of phosphate and nitrate ions) on the adsorption of Reactive Red 120 (RR120) dye by Polyamide Nylon 6 (PN6) microplastics (MPs). Maximum uptake was [...] Read more.
In this work, we investigated the effect of various adsorption parameters (solution pH, temperature, contact time, and the presence of phosphate and nitrate ions) on the adsorption of Reactive Red 120 (RR120) dye by Polyamide Nylon 6 (PN6) microplastics (MPs). Maximum uptake was achieved at pH 2.0, and the temperature rise from 295 to 313 K resulted in the decrease of the RR120 sorption by PN6. Equilibrium was achieved after 7 h, and the adsorption kinetic data obeyed the pseudo-second-order kinetic model. The experimental adsorption data were better fitted by the Langmuir isotherm model, and the qm was found to be 3.96 mg/g at pH 2.0 and 295 K. Thermodynamic studies pointed out that the adsorption was spontaneous and exothermic, with decreasing entropy at the solution/solid interface. Future work will focus on the effect of aging on the adsorptive properties of PN6 toward RR120 dye. Full article
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Review

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25 pages, 2734 KiB  
Review
Current Status and Advancement in Thermal and Membrane-Based Hybrid Seawater Desalination Technologies
by Pankaj P. Gohil, Hemangi Desai, Amit Kumar and Rupesh Kumar
Water 2023, 15(12), 2274; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15122274 - 17 Jun 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4514
Abstract
Emerging hybrid technologies have better potential than conventional technology for diversifying the desalination industry, which is presently being dominated by thermal and membrane-based desalination. Notwithstanding the technological maturity of the desalination processes, they remain highly energy-intensive processes and have certain disadvantages. Therefore, the [...] Read more.
Emerging hybrid technologies have better potential than conventional technology for diversifying the desalination industry, which is presently being dominated by thermal and membrane-based desalination. Notwithstanding the technological maturity of the desalination processes, they remain highly energy-intensive processes and have certain disadvantages. Therefore, the hybridization of thermal and membrane desalination processes holds great attention to mitigate limitations of individual processes in terms of energy consumption, quality and quantity of potable water, overall efficiency and productivity. This paper provides an oversight of conventional and developing desalination technologies, emphasizing their existing state and subsequent potential to reduce water scarcity. Conventional hybrid desalination systems (NF-RO-MSF, MED-AD, FO-MED, MSF-MED, RO-MED, RO-MSF and RO-MD) are briefly discussed. This study reveals that the integration of solar thermal energy with desalination has a great potential to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions besides providing the quality and/or quantity of potable water in cost-effective ways. Due to its abundant availability with minimal/no carbon footprint and the ability to generate both thermal and electrical energy, solar energy is considered better than other renewable energy technologies. The findings further suggest that hybrid desalination systems are technically sound and environmentally suitable; however, a significant study of the research process and development is still required to make this technology efficient and economically viable. Full article
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22 pages, 3370 KiB  
Review
Phytoremediation Prospects for Restoration of Contamination in the Natural Ecosystems
by Shaista Khan, Tariq H. Masoodi, Nazir A. Pala, Shah Murtaza, Javeed A. Mugloo, Parvez A. Sofi, Musaib U. Zaman, Rupesh Kumar and Amit Kumar
Water 2023, 15(8), 1498; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15081498 - 11 Apr 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 4319
Abstract
Toxic substances have a deleterious effect on biological systems if accrued in ecosystems beyond their acceptable limit. A natural ecosystem can become contaminated due to the excessive release of toxic substances by various anthropogenic and natural activities, which necessitates rehabilitation of the environmental [...] Read more.
Toxic substances have a deleterious effect on biological systems if accrued in ecosystems beyond their acceptable limit. A natural ecosystem can become contaminated due to the excessive release of toxic substances by various anthropogenic and natural activities, which necessitates rehabilitation of the environmental contamination. Phytoremediation is an eco-friendly and cost-efficient method of biotechnological mitigation for the remediation of polluted ecosystems and revegetation of contaminated sites. The information provided in this review was collected by utilizing various sources of research information, such as ResearchGate, Google Scholar, the Scopus database and other relevant resources. In this review paper, we discuss (i) various organic and inorganic contaminants; (ii) sources of contamination and their adverse effects on terrestrial and aquatic life; (iii) approaches to the phytoremediation process, including phytoextraction, rhizoremediation, phytostabilization, phytovolatilization, rhizofiltration, phytodegradation, phytodesalination and phytohydraulics, and their underlying mechanisms; (iv) the functions of various microbes and plant enzymes in the biodegradation process and their potential applications; and (v) advantages and limitations of the phytoremediation technique. The reported research aimed to adequately appraise the efficacy of the phytoremediation treatment and facilitate a thorough understanding of specific contaminants and their underlying biodegradation pathways. Detailed procedures and information regarding characteristics of ideal plants, sources of heavy metal contamination, rhizodegradation techniques, suitable species and removal of these contaminants are put forward for further application. Scientists, planners and policymakers should focus on evaluating possible risk-free alternative techniques to restore polluted soil, air and water bodies by involving local inhabitants and concerned stakeholders. Full article
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31 pages, 5931 KiB  
Review
Microplastics in the Ecosystem: An Overview on Detection, Removal, Toxicity Assessment, and Control Release
by Bhamini Pandey, Jigyasa Pathak, Poonam Singh, Ravinder Kumar, Amit Kumar, Sandeep Kaushik and Tarun Kumar Thakur
Water 2023, 15(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15010051 - 23 Dec 2022
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 8672
Abstract
In recent decades, the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics on the surface of the planet have caused several long-term climatic and health risks. Plastic materials, specifically microplastics (MPs; sizes < 5 mm), have gained significant interest in the global scientific fraternity due to [...] Read more.
In recent decades, the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics on the surface of the planet have caused several long-term climatic and health risks. Plastic materials, specifically microplastics (MPs; sizes < 5 mm), have gained significant interest in the global scientific fraternity due to their bioaccumulation, non-biodegradability, and ecotoxicological effects on living organisms. This study explains how microplastics are generated, transported, and disposed of in the environment based on their sources and physicochemical properties. Additionally, the study also examines the impact of COVID-19 on global plastic waste production. The physical and chemical techniques such as SEM-EDX, PLM, FTIR, Raman, TG-DSC, and GC-MS that are employed for the quantification and identification of MPs are discussed. This paper provides insight into conventional and advanced methods applied for microplastic removal from aquatic systems. The finding of this review helps to gain a deeper understanding of research on the toxicity of microplastics on humans, aquatic organisms, and soil ecosystems. Further, the efforts and measures that have been enforced globally to combat MP waste have been highlighted and need to be explored to reduce its potential risk in the future. Full article
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