The intensive use of plastics and derivatives during the last century has increased the contamination of animal habitats. The breakdown of these primary plastics in the environment results in microplastics (MP), small fragments of plastic typically <1–5 mm in size. Apart from the potential negative effects of the MPs per se, it is generally assumed that microplastics may increase the exposure of marine aquatic organisms to chemicals associated with the plastics. In addition, to enhance the performance of plastics, additives are added during manufacture. Furthermore, they are active in absorbing other contaminants and be used as vectors of highly and well‐documented persistent contaminants. Finally, these small MPs are easily ingested by animals and affect their physiology and behaviour. Thus, aquatic living organisms are continuously exposed to these MPs, and associated contaminants, and could suffer from its contamination but also introduce them into the food chain.
Part of the book: Toxicology