Microplastics: a review on methodology, policies and mitigation measures.

Supervisors: Oihane C. Basurko, Joana Larreta (AZTI)
Microplastics represent a significant environmental issue worldwide. These tiny particles can be either primary or secondary, where the first are already manufactured as microplastics and the latter are usually resulted from plastic break down due to weathering or mechanical fragmentation. Microplasticsare ingested by several animals and, consequently, are incorporated into the food chain, which could lead to physical and toxicological issues on aquatic organisms and human health. Driven by the detrimental effects and the constant awareness raised on plastic pollution, several studies had been carried out on microplastics pollution in recent years. This systematic review aimed to assess peer-reviewed scientific literature, gray literature and relevant reports to address 1) feasible methodological enhancements to tackle the microplastics issue, 2) policies in place targeting microplastics and 3) strategies to mitigate microplastics pollution. This thesis highlights that methodological efforts are needed to assess microplastics<300μm and modelling, remote sensing and thermal analytical techniques coupled with spectroscopy represent promising methodological alternatives to evaluate microplastics pollution. Moreover, a timeline of policies directly or indirectly addressing microplasticsis presented, emphasizing the exponential growth of international initiatives to curb this environmental issue. In addition, this work postulates a detailed discussion on specific strategies and initiatives to prevent and mitigate microplastics pollution, adding value to literature by providing a synthetic overview of current knowledge gaps and concrete solutions to address MPs pollution in the following years. Therefore, this document provides synthesized baseline material for further studies intending to bridge the knowledge gaps on MPs pollution and/or curb this environmental issue.