Professor in the environmental conservation department tackles a complex problem

In “Microplastic in the Environment: Pattern and Process,” editor Michael S. Bank, senior scientist at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research and professor of contaminants and complex systems at UMass Amherst, tackles an extraordinarily complex problem that has recently come to popular attention: the problem of microplastics.

“This pollution issue is a classic transboundary example of how land-based pollution can become extremely widespread, even entering remote regions including pristine mountainous regions, wilderness areas, and the Arctic and the deepest trenches of the ocean,” write Bank and Sophia V. Hansson, a research scientist at the University of Toulouse and Aarhus University, in their co-authored introduction to the volume.  

“Microplastic in the Environment” provides a comprehensive, holistic analysis of the plastic cycle and its subsequent effects on biota, food security and human exposure. Global environmental change and its associated, systems-level processes, including atmospheric deposition, ecosystem complexity, UV exposure, wind patterns, water stratification, ocean circulation and more are all important direct and indirect factors governing the fate, transport and biotic and abiotic processing of plastic particles across ecosystem types. Furthermore, the distribution of plastic in the ocean is not independent of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics, since much of the plastic in marine ecosystems originates from land and should therefore be evaluated in the context of the larger plastic cycle. In addition to the risks that plastics pose to the total environment, the potential impacts on human health and exposure routes, including seafood consumption, and air and drinking water need to be assessed in a comprehensive and quantitative manner.

Bank’s edited volume is a holistic and interdisciplinary book designed to advance the understanding of plastic cycling in the environment with an emphasis on sources, fate and transport, ecotoxicology, climate change effects, food security, microbiology, sustainability, human exposure and public policy.

“Microplastic in the Environment: Pattern and Process” is published by Springer and is available both as a softcover and as an open-access, online publication.

Read on.