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The importance of integrating morphological attributes of microplastics: a theoretical discussion to assess environmental impacts

  • Sustainable Waste Management & Circular Economy
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Most scientific studies on microplastic (MP) pollution report their results as number of particles (e.g., particles/m2, particles/m3, particles/kg dw). An important limitation of this expression is to consider all MP particles as environmentally equivalent, regardless of their size, volume, mass, or specific surface area. Using a theoretical approach, we advocate that including such morphological attributes reveals significant differences in results of supposedly equivalent samples that consider only the number of particles. Our goal is to present how particle size and shape produce different results for hypothetical samples with the same number of particles. Therefore, from these examples we expect to stimulate the debate and contribute to improve accuracy and comparability of studies on MP pollution.

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The authors are grateful to the Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement (CAPES, Brazil) for the master’s degree scholarship attributed to CRG.


CRG is grateful for the master’s degree scholarship from Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement (CAPES, Brazil). DS is grateful for the grant #2021/08565–3 funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, Brazil).

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by DS and CRG. The first draft of the manuscript was written by DS. CRG and GL commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Décio Semensatto.

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Semensatto, D., Labuto, G. & Gerolin, C.R. The importance of integrating morphological attributes of microplastics: a theoretical discussion to assess environmental impacts. Environ Sci Pollut Res 31, 17527–17532 (2024).

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