Towards control strategies for microplastics in urban water

Date of publication 3 August 2020

Authors Faltstrom, Emma; Anderberg, Stefan.

Sources Environmental Science and Pollution Research :



Microplastics (plastic particles < 5 mm) is a pollution of growing concern. Microplastic pollution is a complex issue that requires systematic attempts to provide an overview and avoid management solutions that have marginal effects or only move the pollution problem. Substance flow analysis (SFA) has been proposed as a useful tool to receive such an overview and has been put forward as valuable for substance management. However, as the research on microplastics has only emerged recently, detailed and reliable SFAs are difficult to perform. In this study, we use three SFA studies for three pollutants (cadmium, copper and pharmaceuticals) to compare flows and strategies to control the flows. This in order to seek guidance for microplastic management and evaluate potential strategies for controlling microplastics. The analysis shows that there has been rigorous control on different levels to abate pollution from cadmium, copper and pharmaceuticals, but where in the system the major control measures have been carried out differ. For microplastics, there are many potential solutions, both in terms of preventive actions and treatment depending on the type of source. When forming management plans for microplastics, the responsibility for each measure and the impact on the whole urban system should be taken into consideration as well as which receiving compartments are particularly valuable and should be avoided.

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