Sediment matters as a route of microplastic exposure: A call for more research on the benthic compartment

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Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous in the marine environment. Here, most MPs
are expected to sink, either due to polymer density or environmental
processes, such as biofouling, leading to sediment being proposed to act as
a final sink for marine MPs. There is a discrepancy between the anticipated
accumulation of MPs in the sediment compartment and the MP experiments
conducted, since most MP effect studies have been conducted with pelagic
species using water-only exposures. Here we address fundamental questions
in relation to MP pollution to close the knowledge gap related hereto. A
systematic literature search was performed to address these questions. We
found that benthic invertebrates ingest MPs and that, even though these
organisms evolutionary are adapted to handle particles, adverse effects may
be observed upon ingestion of MPs. The analysis further revealed that there is a
major knowledge gap on the impacts of sediment-associated MPs in marine,
benthic invertebrates. To facilitate further and structured research within this
topic, we recommend more studies with emphasis on the sediment as an
important exposure pathway, and to focus on sediment-associated MP effects
on benthic invertebrates. We recommend studies with ecological relevant
exposure concentrations and ecological relevant exposure durations with
emphasis on impacts on population- and community-level to reduce the
knowledge gap within this central area of MP pollution research.
TidsskriftFrontiers in Marine Science
StatusUdgivet - 4 jan. 2023

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