A critical review of microplastic pollution in urban freshwater environments and legislative progress in China: Recommendations and insights

Yuyao Xu, Faith Ka Shun Chan, Jun He, Matthew Johnson, Christopher Gibbins, Paul Kay, Thomas Stanton, Yaoyang Xu, Gang Li, Meili Feng, Odette Paramor, Xubiao Yu, Yong Guan Zhu

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Freshwater systems are vitally important, supporting diversity and providing a range of ecosystem services. In China, rapid urbanization (over 800 million urban population) has led to multiple anthropogenic pressures that threaten urban freshwater environments. Microplastics (<5 mm) result from intensive production and use of plastic materials, but their effects in urban freshwater environments remain poorly understood. Rising concerns over the ecological effects of microplastics have resulted in increased attention being given to this contaminant in Chinese freshwater systems. Some studies provide quantitative data on contamination loads, but in general relevant knowledge in freshwater environment remains narrow in China, and lacking adequate understanding of threshold levels for detrimental effects. Notably, non-standardized sample collection and processing techniques for point and non-point sources have hindered comparisons of contamination loads and associated risk. Meanwhile, legislative frameworks for managing microplastics in China remain in their infancy. This manuscript critically reviews what is known of the nature and magnitude of microplastic pollution in Chinese freshwater environments, and summarizes relevant Chinese legislation. It provides recommendations for improving the legislative framework in China and identifies research gaps that need to be addressed to improve management and regulatory strategies for dealing with microplastic pollution in Chinese urban freshwater environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2637-2680
Number of pages44
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Volume51
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Abundance
  • microplastics
  • urban freshwater environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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