Microplastics: minuscule particles with big consequences?

  • S. Knoll
  • A. Decostere
  • A. M. Declercq


Since the mass production of plastics, contamination of the marine environment with these persistent synthetic materials has become an ever-increasing problem. Lately, it has become clear that microplastics play a big part in this. These small plastic particles (< 5mm) are ubiquitous in seawater and sediments. There are various entryways, such as fragmentation of macroplastics and drainage of primary microplastic via wastewater. Recent studies have shown that microplastics may be ingested by numerous marine organisms. This could result in diverse health effects, including mechanical injury and cellular toxicity. Adverse effects of microplastics are possibly enhanced by the contamination of these plastic particles with toxic chemicals. Furthermore, microplastics and microplastic contaminants could accumulate in the food chain, eventually affecting humans. Despite the growing number of publications on microplastics, there are still many unanswered questions regarding this topic. In this article, the contemporary knowledge of microplastics in the marine environment is provided.

How to Cite:

Knoll, S. & Decostere, A. & Declercq, A., (2017) “Microplastics: minuscule particles with big consequences?”, Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 86(4), 203-212. doi:

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Published on
28 Aug 2017
Peer Reviewed