Plastics Pollution in Aquatic Environments

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 June 2024 | Viewed by 1003

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department: Polymer, Fibre and Composite, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Brinellgatan 4, 504 62 Borås, Sweden
Interests: microplastics; plastic degradation and fragmentation; eletronic microscopy; polymer blends; green materials

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Marine Science, University of Gothenburg, Kristineberg 566, SE-451 78 Fiskebäckskil, Lysekil, Sweden
Interests: micro- and nanoplastics; correlative microscopy; spectroscopy; plastic degradation and fragmentation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The aquatic environment is known to be heavily polluted with plastics, including microplastics that are released into the environment directly from everyday-use plastic items, wastewater treatment plants, polymer degradation and industries. One of the current concerns is that when these contaminants enter the water, aquatic life may feed on them, and the microplastics may enter the food chain and cause serious health risks. However, little is known about their distribution and fate in the environment, and more research is needed to answer questions such as the following: What happens to the plastics when in the aquatic environment in relation to degradation, biodegradation and fragmentation? How does the environment affect the plastics?

Another important aspect is the plastic products from biodegradable sources that are presented as a sustainable alternative to conventional plastics and a solution to marine plastic pollution. However, concern regarding bioplastics is that the use of additives could leach more effectively to the environment through microplastics.

This Special Issue welcomes manuscripts on all aspects related to studies on plastic pollution in the aquatic environment, including the fate and distribution of plastics, plastic degradation, fragmentation, biodegradation, and the production of materials that involve greater sustainability and less harm to the environment. Both research and review papers are welcome.

Dr. Juliana Aristéia De Lima
Dr. Karin Mattsson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • degradation
  • fragmentation
  • biodegradation
  • polymer characteristics
  • micro- and nanoplastics
  • aquatic environment
  • characterisation methods
  • microscopy
  • spectroscopy
  • green materials
  • bioplastics
  • microplastics

Published Papers (1 paper)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:


16 pages, 2953 KiB  
A Microplastic Pollution Hotspot: Elevated Levels in Sediments from the San Francisco Bay Area
by Lara Dronjak, Joaquim Rovira, Diana Lin, June-Soo Park, Sutapa Ghosal, Nora Expósito, Marta Schuhmacher and Jordi Sierra
Environments 2024, 11(5), 103; - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 328
San Francisco Bay’s sediment is currently monitored for a variety of contaminants; however, data regarding the microplastics (MPs) in the area are still scarce. MPs’ occurrence in sediment samples has gained recognition as a reservoir for MP accumulation. Moreover, Bay sediment is also [...] Read more.
San Francisco Bay’s sediment is currently monitored for a variety of contaminants; however, data regarding the microplastics (MPs) in the area are still scarce. MPs’ occurrence in sediment samples has gained recognition as a reservoir for MP accumulation. Moreover, Bay sediment is also an important matrix for monitoring because sediment tends to accumulate certain contaminants and act as a source of contaminants in the Bay food web. This study analyzed MPs ranging from 25 µm to 5 mm in surface sediment grab samples (n = 8) and two sediment core samples (n = 2 cores analyzed with 11 samples from different depths). Our findings provide an evaluation of MP levels in different regions of the bay. The MP levels detected in Bay surface grab samples ranged from 2.1 to 11.9 MPs/g dry weight (n = 8), with a mean value of 6.2 MPs/g. The most abundant morphology was fibers, followed by fragments and films. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastics Pollution in Aquatic Environments)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Plan paper 1:

Title: Kinetics of enzymatic decomposition of amylose-based bioplastics at low water activity.

Authors: Marwa Faisal 1, , Camilla Frederikke Skovbjerg 1, , Yu Tian 1, Kim Henrik Hebelstrup 2 Bent Larsen Petersen1 and Andreas Blennow 1,*

Affiliation: 1. Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, DK-1871, Denmark; 2. Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, 4200 Slagelse, Denmark

Abstract: Starch-based bioplastics offer a promising alternative to conventional plastics, especially as a fully compostable. However, its microbial degradation is not well-known, especially plastics made of robust starch materials such as amylose and at varying water activity. In this study, amylose granules and subsequently amylose-based bioplastics were subjected to amyloglucosidase-assisted degradation at different water activities spanning 60 – 100% water using polyethylene glycol (PEG) to reduce water activity during degradation. The interfacial kinetics of degradation was tested at the optimal water activity using interfacial Michaelis-Menten combined with a Langmuir adsorption approach allowing enzymatic attack sites onto the amylose and amylose-based bioplastics to be calculated. Our data show that, due to molecular organization, the bioplastics were surprisingly resistant towards hydrolysis and that enzyme hydrolytic activity was dependent on the water activity following the Sabatier principle, i.e., optimal adsorption of the enzyme onto the bioplastics surface was directed by the water activity.

Submission date: June 2024

Plan paper 2:

Title: Temporal and Spatial Variations in Microplastic Concentrations in Small, Headwater Basins in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, USA.

Authors: Miller, Jerry1; Barrett, Nathaniel1; Love, Jason2, Youker, Robert3; Hall, Chloe2, McGraw, Emma1; Meiri2, Noa; Randall, Georgeanna3; Gray, Austin4

Affiliation: 1. Western Carolina University; 2. Virginia Tech.

Abstract: Microplastics (MPs), small pieces of plastic < 5 mm in size, are considered a pollutant of emerging concern on a global scale, and have increasingly become a research topic of widespread interest. Unlike marine environments, data pertaining to freshwater streams remain limited, particularly within relatively undeveloped headwater basins. In this paper, we examine the spatial and temporal variations in MP concentrations and character (color, shape, composition) within two headwater basins of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains by collecting and analyzing samples at multiple sites over a range of flow conditions. A subset of collected particles were characterized to the polymer or additive level, indicative of anthropogenic particles. Particle concentrations ranged from 0 to ~60 particles/L, about 90 % of which were red, purple, or black/blue fibers. As expected, particle concentrations tended to increase with increasing development in both basins but were surprisingly high in small, undeveloped, high-elevation subbasins. We hypothesize that elevated concentrations in these latter subbasins are related to the atmospheric deposition of MPs (and other anthropogenic particles), and limited flow volumes (discharge) in stream channels, particularly during rainfall events. Temporally, concentrations varied between sites and between storms at a site. While particle concentrations increased during runoff events at some sites, at others, they either decreased or remained the same as stream flows increased. We speculate that these temporal variations are related to the complex interplay between precipitation and runoff intensities, as well as MP source locations and contributions, including road crossings, storm drains, channel bed sediments, and tributaries. 

Back to TopTop