MICROPLASTICS IN ECUADOR: A REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH-RISK ASSESSMENT CHALLENGES: A review of environmental and health-risk assessment challenges

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Resumen

Pollution from plastic debris and microplastics (MPs) is a worldwide issue. Classified as emerging contaminants, MPs have become widespread and have been found not only in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems but also within the food chain, which affects both the environment and human health. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the consumption of single-use plastics has drastically increased, intensifying mismanaged plastic waste in countries such as Ecuador. Therefore, the aim of this review is to 1) summarize the state of MP-related knowledge, focusing on studies conducted with environmental matrices, biota, and food, and 2) analyze the efforts by different national authorities and entities in Ecuador to control MP contamination. Results showed a limited number of studies have been done in Ecuador, which have mainly focused on the surface water of coastal areas, followed by studies on sediment and food. MPs were identified in all samples, indicating the lack of wastewater management policies, deficient management of solid wastes, and the contribution of anthropogenic activities such as artisanal fishing and aquaculture to water ecosystem pollution, which affects food webs. Moreover, studies have shown that food contamination can occur through atmospheric deposition of MPs; however, ingredients and inputs from food production, processing, and packaging, as well as food containers, contribute to MP occurrence in food. Further research is needed to develop more sensitive, precise, and reliable detection methods and assess MPs' impact on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, biota, and human health. In Ecuador specifically, implementing wastewater treatment plants in major cities, continuously monitoring MP coastal contamination, and establishing environmental and food safety regulations are crucial. Additionally, national authorities need to develop programs to raise public awareness of plastic use and its environmental effects, as well as MP exposure's effects on human health.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículoe23232
PublicaciónHeliyon
Volumen10
N.º1
DOI
EstadoPublicada - 15 ene. 2024

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