Plastics have become a major source of pollution due to their ubiquitous use in a wide array of products. Most plastics are not readily biodegradable and can wind up as litter or are simply disposed of in landfi lls. It is estimated that only 9% of the plastic in the US is recycled . Plastics discarded into the environment can be ingested by animals, break down into smaller particles which can also be ingested, or leach other compounds into the environment which can potentially cause damage. Leachates can include plasticizers, fl ame retardants, blowing agents, UV stabilizers, dyes and a host of other compounds added to the polymers.
Micro- and nanoplastics pollution in oceans, lakes and other water sources is an on-going and well-documented issue. Sources and entry ways of these plastics include grey water, surface runoff, and litter. Grey water is defi ned as the relatively clean wastewater from sources such as baths, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. The very small plastic particle size precludes effi cient removal during the wastewater treatment process. As a result, fi sh and other aquatic life ingest the plastics, which introduces them into the food chain and causes possible adverse effects.