Microplastics in African ecosystems: Current knowledge, abundance, associated contaminants, techniques, and research needs

Catégorie : Détection & Caractérisation
Date :8 janvier 2021
Alimi, Olubukola S.; Fadare, Oluniyi O.; Okoffo, Elvis D.
Science of The Total Environment : 755
Despite Africa ranking top in mismanaged plastic waste, there is insufficient data on the extent of microplastics and its interaction with other contaminants in its ecosystems. Microplastics pollution has been documented globally, however, specific data from the continent is crucial for accurate risk assessment and to drive policies. We critically reviewed 56 articles from 1987 to 2020 and provide an overview of the current knowledge of the abundance and distribution of microplastics and associated contaminants in African aquatic systems and organisms. Most of the studies were carried out in the marine environment and there is currently no available data on the abundance of microplastic pollution in the African terrestrial environment. We show that across all studies, 5-100% of all sampled aquatic organisms contained microplastics. Concerning high levels of microplastics were reported in fish from Egypt compared to other parts of Africa and the world. Across all persistent organic pollutants sampled in microplastics, hopanes and phthalates were present at high concentrations while sodium and zinc were high relative to other trace metals reported. The most frequently occurring plastics were polyethylene followed by polypropylene and polystyrene. We found that most of the studies relied on visual inspection (52%) > FTIR (38%) > Raman spectroscopy (5%) > Scanning electron microscopy (3%) > Differential scanning calorimetry (2%) for identifying microplastics. Major gaps in sampling and identification techniques which may have overestimated or underestimated the current levels were identified. We discuss other research priorities and recommend solutions to address these issues associated with microplastic pollution in Africa. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.