Marine Anthropogenic Litter

pp 229-244

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.


Sources and Pathways of Microplastics to Habitats

  • Mark A. BrowneAffiliated withNational Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa BarbaraEvolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales Email author 


Identifying and eliminating the sources of microplastic to habitats is crucial to reducing the social, environmental and economic impacts of this form of debris. Although eliminating sources of pollution is a fundamental component of environmental policy in the U.S.A. and Europe, the sources of microplastic and their pathways into habitats remain poorly understood compared to other persistent, bioaccumulative and/or toxic substances (i.e. priority pollutants; EPA in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2010–2014 Pollution Prevention (P2) Program Strategic Plan. Washington, USA, pp. 1–34, 2010; EU in Official J Eur Union L334:17–119, 2010). This chapter reviews our understanding of sources and pathways of microplastic, appraises terminology, and outlines future directions for meaningfully integrating research, managerial actions and policy to understand and reduce the infiltration of microplastic to habitats.


Hypothesis Micrometre Emissions Sewage Storm-water Textile Exfoliants