Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 15, pp 14373–14396 | Cite as

Ecotoxicological effects of microplastics on biota: a review

  • Sadasivam AnbumaniEmail author
  • Poonam KakkarEmail author
Review Article


The ubiquitous presence of microplastics in the environment has drawn the attention of ecotoxicologists on its safety and toxicity. Sources of microplastics in the environment include disintegration of larger plastic items (secondary microplastics), personal care products like liquid soap, exfoliating scrubbers, and cleaning supplies etc. Indiscriminate usage of plastics and its poor waste disposal management pose serious concern on ecosystem quality at global level. The present review focused on the ecological impact of microplastics on biota at different trophic levels, its uptake, accumulation, and excretion etc., and its plausible mechanistic toxicity with risk assessment approaches. Existing scientific evidence shows that microplastics exposure triggers a wide variety of toxic insult from feeding disruption to reproductive performance, physical ingestion, disturbances in energy metabolism, changes in liver physiology, synergistic and/ or antagonistic action of other hydrophobic organic contaminants etc. from lower to higher trophics. Thus, microplastic accumulation and its associated adverse effects make it mandatory to go in for risk assessment and legislative action. Subsequent research priorities, agenda, and key issues to be addressed are also acknowledged in the present review.


Microplastics Ecological impacts Risk assessment Regulatory ecotoxicology 



The authors acknowledge Prof. Alok Dhawan, Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), Lucknow for his encouragement and support. This manuscript has CSIR-IITR communication number 3403.


No funding is involved.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving Human Participants and/or Animals: This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Formal consent is not required for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Regulatory Toxicology GroupCSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology ResearchLucknowIndia
  2. 2.GLP Test Facility, Regulatory Toxicology GroupCSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology ResearchLucknowIndia

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