Microplastic emission trends in Turkish primary and secondary municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents discharged into the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea


Environmental Research, vol.231, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 231
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.116188
  • Journal Name: Environmental Research
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, Computer & Applied Sciences, EMBASE, Environment Index, Geobase, Greenfile, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Microplastic, Pollution, Source, Waste, WWTP
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) are recognized as one of the primary sources of microplastics, a class of contaminants that has lately gained attention. The quantity of MP that WWTPs release into the environment depends on several factors, including the treatment type, season, and population serviced. MP abundance and characterization were explored in 15 WWTP effluent waters, 9 discharged to the Black Sea from Türkiye and 6 to the Marmara Sea, with varying population densities and treatment methods. The mean MP abundance in primary treatment WWTPs (76.25 ± 49.20 MP L−1) was found to be substantially greater than that in secondary treatment WWTPs (20.57 ± 21.56 MP L−1) (p<0.05). MPs in WWTP effluent waters showed significant seasonal and spatial differences (Two Way ANOVA, Tukey, p<0.05). However, no positive correlation was detected between the population serviced and MP abundance in effluent waters. While the fiber was the dominant shape (49.5%) among MPs in effluent waters, ≈80% of the length was <1000 μm. MPs are classified into polymer types as follows: polyethylene terephthalate (34.9%) > polypropylene (32.4%) > polyethylene (19.9%) > polyamide (11%) > polystyrene (1.2%) > polyvinyl chloride (0.6%). With effluent waters from the WWTPs tested, we calculated that 1.24x1010 daily MPs are discharged into the Black Sea while 4.95x1010 MPs are into the Marmara Sea, for a combined annual discharge of 2.26x1013 MPs highlighting that WWTPs are key contributors of MP in Turkish coastal waters.