Knowledge about sources and sinks of microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems is crucial for environmental protection from these anthropogenic contaminants and policy making. In terms of origin, tire wear abrasion and synthetic fibers from clothes are known to be the main sources of microplastics. However, debates regarding their sinks, namely, in which environmental compartments and to what extent microplastics are settled and accumulated, are still ongoing. The heterogeneity of geological and climatological conditions, as well as the diversity of socioeconomic and agricultural activities make research outcomes of microplastics concentrations in different environmental compartments or geographic regions barely comparable. Therefore, quantitative and mass balance analyses based on published data should be performed to shed light on the hotspots of microplastic contaminations.

Ziel der Arbeit

Here, we aim to gain a broader perspective upon the fate of microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems based on current literature. Statements from different sources need to be compared and examined critically and meticulously, in order to obtain an objective overview of the ultimate whereabouts of microplastic contaminants.


The work will mainly consist of reviewing scientific publications and reports. Disorganized yet interrelated data from different resources shall be connected and internalized by the student, to form a comprehensive quantitative overview of the sinks of microplastics after they were released into the freshwater, soil, air and other terrestrial environmental compartments.


Literature research, Statistics, Interdisciplinary considerations


Natalie Orlowski, Sijia Gao


Dr. Natalie Orlowski:; Tel. 0761 – 203 9283; M.Sc. Sijia Gao:; Tel. 0761 – 203 3529




  • Horton, Alice A., et al. „Microplastics in freshwater and terrestrial environments: evaluating the current understanding to identify the knowledge gaps and future research priorities.“ Science of the total environment 586 (2017): 127-141.
  • Kiessling, Tim, et al. „Schoolchildren discover hotspots of floating plastic litter in rivers using a large-scale collaborative approach.“ Science of the Total Environment 789 (2021): 147849.
  • van Emmerik, Tim, and Anna Schwarz. „Plastic debris in rivers.“ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water 7.1 (2020): e1398.
  • Ng, Ee-Ling, et al. „An overview of microplastic and nanoplastic pollution in agroecosystems.“ Science of the total environment 627 (2018): 1377-1388.
  • thesis/mp_sinks.txt
  • Zuletzt geändert: 2024/01/16 16:18
  • von mweiler