Microplastics in Inland African Waters: Presence, Sources, and Fate

Farhan Khan, Bahati Sosthenes Mayoma, Fares John Biginagwa, Kristian Syberg

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As the birthplace of our species, the African continent holds a unique place in human history. Upon entering a new epoch, the Anthropocene defined by human-driven influences on earth systems, and with the recognition that plastic pollution is one of the hallmarks of this new age, remarkably little is known about the presence, sources, and fate of plastics (and microplastics (MPs)) within African waters. Research in marine regions, most notably around the coast of South Africa, describes the occurrence of MPs in seabirds and fish species. More recently environmental sampling studies in the same area have quantified plastics in both the water column and sediments. However, despite Africa containing some of the largest and deepest of the world’s freshwater lakes, including Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika as part of the African Great Lakes system, and notable freshwater rivers, such as the River Congo and the Nile, the extent of MPs within the inland waters remains largely unreported. In the only study to date to describe MP pollution in the African Great Lakes, a variety of polymers, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and silicone rubber, were recovered from the gastrointestinal tracts of Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fished from Lake Victoria. The likely sources of these plastics were considered to be human activities linked to fishing and tourism, and urban waste. In this chapter we discuss the need for research focus on MPs in Africa and how what has been described in the coastal regions and other freshwater environments can be applied to inland African waters. The aforementioned study in Lake Victoria is used to exemplify how small-scale investigations can provide early indications of MP pollution. Lastly we discuss the current challenges and future needs of MP research in African freshwaters.
TitelFreshwater Microplastics : Emerging Environmental Contaminants?
RedaktørerMartin Wagner, Scott Lambert
Antal sider23
ISBN (Trykt)978-3-319-61614-8
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-3-319-61615-5
StatusUdgivet - 2017
NavnHandbook of Environmental Chemistry

Bibliografisk note

This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license


  • Africa
  • African Great Lakes
  • Freshwater
  • Microplastics
  • MP sampling

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