Microplastics in wastewater: Environmental and health impacts, detection, and remediation strategies

Muhammad Tariq KHAN, Yan Laam CHENG, Saba HAFEEZ, Yiu Fai TSANG, Jieqiong YANG, Asim NAWAB

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


Microplastics (MPs) are unregulated and emerging contaminants, which are continuously released due to human activities in the environment through several pathways. The presence of MPs poses threats to the environment, organisms, and human health. The discharge of treated effluent from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a major source of MP input, especially in the form of microfibers, into the aquatic environment, whereas the application of sludge and compost is a crucial pathway transferring MPs to terrestrial environment. Meanwhile, MPs are produced from industrial processes and the use of plastic consumer goods and personal care products. MPs become more hazardous when they adsorb persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals or attach with pathogenic microorganisms from wastewater and sludge. However, there is little comprehensive information available about the collaborative role of wastewater and sludge in MP contamination. Studies about remediation strategies and their removal mechanisms of MPs in WWTPs are limited. Therefore, it is important to develop cost-effective detection methods of MPs for routine monitoring in wastewater and sludge samples and understanding of fate and inhibitory effects of MPs in wastewater and sludge treatment processes, before developing the mitigation measures of MP contamination. This chapter summarizes the sources and pathways of MPs, discusses the impacts of MPs on environment and human health, and reviews the current practices on detection, quantification, and qualification of MPs. In addition, this chapter provides insights into the source control of MPs through polices and education. Copyright © 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of microplastics in the environment
EditorsTeresa ROCHA-SANTOS, Mónica COSTA, Catherine MOUNEYRAC
Place of PublicationCham
ISBN (Electronic)9783030106188
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 07 Oct 2020


Khan, M. T., Cheng, Y. L., Hafeez, S., Tsang, Y. F., Yang, J., & Nawab, A. (2020). Microplastics in wastewater: Environmental and health impacts, detection, and remediation strategies. In T. Rocha-Santos, M. Costa, & C. Mouneyrac (Eds.), Handbook of microplastics in the environment. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-10618-8_39-1


  • Microplastics
  • Microfibers
  • Characteristics
  • Analytical methods
  • Removal
  • PG student publication


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