Trends in Microplastic Pollution in the Oceans: A Review

Greg Howard
1st March, 2024

Trends in Microplastic Pollution in the Oceans: A Review

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study maps a decade of global research on ocean microplastic pollution, showing a rise in studies
  • China leads recent research efforts, overtaking the US and UK in marine microplastic studies
  • The Mediterranean Sea is a key focus area, reflecting its high vulnerability to plastic pollution
Microplastic pollution in the world's oceans is a rapidly growing concern, impacting marine life and potentially human health through the food chain. A recent study by researchers at Fakir Mohan University aimed to map the landscape of scientific research on Marine Microplastic Pollution (MMP) over the past decade[1]. The study provides insights into the research trends, patterns, and themes that have emerged in this critical field. The study's methodology was meticulous, involving the collection of a vast dataset from comprehensive scientific databases, Scopus and the Web of Science. Researchers then employed bibliometric analysis, a statistical tool that helps to understand the impact and development of a particular field of research, to sift through this data. The Biblioshiny tool was specifically used to analyze the dataset, revealing trends and patterns in the research on MMP. From 2011 to 2022, there were 1377 scientific articles published on MMP, indicating a growing interest in the subject. These articles have been widely cited, with an impressive average citation count per publication, highlighting the significance of the research being conducted. The study found that the most cited work appeared in 2011, marking a pivotal year for MMP research. Since then, the number of publications has steadily increased, reflecting the escalating concern and research efforts in this area. The authorship of these publications is global, with 5478 researchers contributing to the field. However, the study observed a shift in the geographic origin of these contributions. Initially dominated by the USA and the UK, China has recently taken a leading role in MMP research, especially from 2019 to 2022. This shift may reflect the global nature of the problem and the international scientific community's response to it. The study also identified the most common themes and subthemes within MMP research. Notably, the Mediterranean Sea was a frequent subject of study, likely due to its particular vulnerability to plastic pollution. This aligns with previous findings that microplastics are ubiquitous in various ecosystems, from coral reefs to mangrove sediments, and pose potential hazards to marine life and human health[2][3]. The journals Marine Pollution Bulletin and Science of the Total Environment were the most prolific publishers of MMP articles, indicating their central role in disseminating research on this topic. The continued prominence of MMP research in scientific literature suggests that the issue remains a high priority for environmental scientists. The study by Fakir Mohan University builds on earlier findings that have highlighted the risks associated with microplastics, such as their potential to cause toxicity in living organisms and the need for sustainable waste management practices[2][4]. It also underscores the importance of global collaboration and innovation in tackling this environmental crisis, as indicated by the changing patterns of national research cooperation and the formation of new research centers during the COVID-19 pandemic[5]. In conclusion, the bibliometric analysis conducted by Fakir Mohan University provides a comprehensive overview of the MMP research landscape, showing an increasing global interest and a shift towards more diverse international contributions. The study emphasizes the critical need for continued research into the sources, impacts, and management of microplastics in marine environments. By understanding the trends and themes in this research, we can better direct future efforts towards mitigating the effects of microplastics on marine ecosystems and, ultimately, on human health.

EnvironmentMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Current patterns and trends of microplastic pollution in the marine environment: A bibliometric analysis.

Published 28th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Mitigating microplastic pollution: A critical review on the effects, remediation, and utilization strategies of microplastics.

3) Distribution and risk assessment of microplastics in typical ecosystems in the South China Sea.

4) Understanding microplastic pollution: Tracing the footprints and eco-friendly solutions.

5) Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research on marine plastic pollution - A bibliometric-based assessment.

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