미세플라스틱 관련 대부분의 연구에서는 미세플라스틱(MP)을 5mm 미만의 플라스틱 입자로 정의하고 있다. 미세플라스틱은 자연계에 광범위하게 분포함으로써 인간과 환경에 잠재적 위험성이 높아지고 있는 물질이다. 특히 미세플라스틱은 인간을 포함하여 살아있는 생명체에게 물리적 영향을 줄 뿐만 아니라 신진대사와 호르몬 등과 같은 생태적 기능에 심각한 영향을 줄 수 있다. 따라서 본 연구는 환경에서 미세플라스틱의 근원, 경로 및 영향에 대한 이해를 돕기 위해 수행되었다. 미세플라스틱은 본질적으로 1 차 및 2 차 미세플라스틱으로 분류되며, 물리적 및 화학적 특성에 따라 분류되기도 한다. 미세플라스틱의 주요 경로는 강우유출수와 폐수를 통한 배출이며, 하천과 하구역을 거쳐 해양과 같은 대규모 수역으로 이동한다. 미세플라스틱은 폐수 처리 과정에서 크게 제거되기 때문에 폐수처리장 유출수의 미세플라스틱 농도는 강우유출수 내 농도보다 상대적으로 낮게 나타난다. 그러나 폴리머의 분포 측면에서는 폐수가 강우유출수보다 다양한 폴리머 종류를 포함하고 있는 것으로 나타났다. 폐수와 강우유출수에서 발견되는 일반적인 폴리머 유형은 폴리프로필렌(PP), 폴리염화비닐(PVC), 폴리스티렌(PS), 폴리에틸렌(PE) 및 폴리에틸렌테레프탈레이트(PET) 등으로 나타났다. 환경에서 지속적으로 배출이 증가하고 있는 미세플라스틱의 수는 인간과 다른 생명체에게 미래 위험을 줄 수 있다. 그 동안 미세플라스틱에 대한 연구 결과물의 수가 증가함에도 불구하고 환경에 미치는 영향을 완화하기 위한 구체적 규제 및 관리 전략을 수립하기에는 많은 추가 연구가 필요한 것으로 나타났다.
Most studies defined microplastic (MP) as plastic particles less than 5 mm. The ubiquity of MP is raising awareness due to its potential risk to humans and the environment. MP can cause harmful effects to humans and living organisms. This paper review aimed to provide a better understanding of the sources, pathways, and impacts of MP in the environment. MP can be classified as primary and secondary in nature. Moreover, microplastic can also be classified as based on its physical and chemical characteristics. Stormwater and wastewater are important pathways of introducing MP in large water bodies. As compared to stormwater, the concentrations of MP in wastewater were relatively lower since wastewater treatment processes can contribute to the removal of MP. In terms of polymer distribution, wastewater contains a wider array of polymer varieties than stormwater runoff. The most common types of polymer found in wastewater and stormwater runoff were polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The continuous discharge and the increasing number of MP in the environment can pose greater hazards and harmful effects on humans and other living organisms. Despite the growing number of publications in relation to MP, further studies are needed to define concrete regulations and management strategies for mitigating the detrimental effects of MP in the environment.
Therefore, this study presented a comprehensive review of the sources, pathways, and environmental impacts of MP.
Most studies on MP reported environmental concentrations of MP in oceans and freshwater, but studies on the primary sources and pathways of MP were still limited. Therefore, this study presented a comprehensive review of the sources, pathways, and environmental impacts of MP. The primary classifications and environmental concentrations of MP were also discussed in this inquiry.
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