Microplastics have become ubiquitous in the marine environment. Microplastics have been detected in many coastal environments and species, including commercial seafood. This triggers concern about potential economic impacts and the risks of dietary exposure, especially for coastal communities. However, data regarding the levels of microplastics in coastal seafood and their toxicological effects are still limited. Accordingly, the dietary risk is still poorly explored. This review summarizes and discusses recent scientific findings on (i) the presence of microplastics in coastal waters, (ii) the occurrence of microplastics in coastal seafood and the likelihood of trophic transfer, and (iii) the effects of microplastics on coastal fish and shellfish species. Human toxicity data are also reviewed, but the risks for human health are difficult to determine due to limited data. Based on available worldwide data, the estimation of microplastics intake through seafood consumption shows a huge variation. Additionally, a lack of standardized analytical methods complicates the comparison of results between studies and therefore seriously affects the reliability of risk assessments. It is concluded that more exposure and toxicity data are needed properly to assess human health risks of microplastics in coastal seafood, and the lack of data currently impede the derivation of a risk-based food safety standard. The pros and cons of an interim solution, i.e. setting a provisional action level, are being discussed.
Date made available11 Apr 2019

Cite this