The ubiquitous nature and regular occurrence of microplastics and nanoplastics in the food chain and environment have made them topical subject for investigations. The subject is widely researched but a small group study focusing on ethnic black British is sparse. Thus, the paper aimed to assess the consumers’ perception of the control system, environmental and food safety threats of micro- nanoplastics through a critical review and an online survey restricted to the mentioned demography. The review and focus group survey with 72 respondents, demonstrated a general awareness of the environmental detriments of plastics, microplastics and nanoplastics but not the food safety threat. Reduction of the use of plastics, especially single use plastics was overwhelmingly supported, with over 80% being in favour, In all cases, the standard deviation was low and the coefficient of variation is less than one (CV>=1). Awareness studies remain key driver to consumer’s perception.
Keywords:Micro and Nano Plastics; Food safety; Environmental pollution; Consumer awareness; Control systems
Global attention to plastics and subsequently microplastics is
growing exponentially as they are ubiquitous, even in very remote
regions of the world where people would not think that plastic
debris could reach . The environmental impact of microplastics
and nano plastics, plus their presence in the food chain have been
widely researched [2,6]. It has been widely suggested that the threat
to food safety and the adverse effects on human health need to be
explored further [6,7,9]. Additionally, there is no legal classification
of microplastics and nano plastics as food contaminants [4,10]. The
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in its 2016 paper on the
presence of microplastics and nano plastics in food and seafood, had
emphasised the fact that there is not a standard or internationally
set definition for both materials. However, microplastics have been
defined as a mixture of particles of various shapes such as beads,
pellets, fibres, fragments, flakes, granules or spheroids [9,11,12]
which is no larger than 5 mm in diameter or length [6,13,14] and
are classified as primary and secondary microplastics. The former
includes particles intentionally manufactured such as those found in
beauty products, soaps, washing powders and clothing for example
glitters. Secondary microplastics are particles obtained from the
degradation or fragmentation of larger pieces of plastics [7,15,17].
The breakdown processes may involve microbial biodegradation,
photo oxidative degradation and hydrolysis of plastics materials
over a period of time [6,14,18]. Nano plastics are defined by their
nanoscale dimension, with a size range of 1 to 100 nm (EFSA Panel
on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) 2016; [3,18,19].
Microplastics are very ubiquitous and their presence and accumulation in the environment threatens the ecological equilibrium, aquatic environment, human health, food sustainability and security [6,7,20]. The environmental and metabolic threats to marine organisms are attributable to the stable chemical and physical properties of the parent plastics, . The plastics can absorb and adsorb toxic inorganic and organic compounds which can leach into the tissues of the marine organisms. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) compounds are reportedly the most plastic/microplastic adsorbent [6,10,13,19,22]. The release rate of these chemical compounds is favoured by the pH of the medium, temperature, heat, UV light, mechanical and chemical abrasion . The manufacturing additives such as bisphenol A, phthalates, nonylphenol, urethane foam and brominated flame retardant, used in production of plastics can become toxic residues [22,25].
The plastic fragments can accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract of marine organisms through ingestion and evidence of deep tissue penetration by particles of nano plastics as well as accumulation has been shown . Earlier, Earlier in 2015, Koelmans et al.  showed that nano plastics such as those from polystyrene could cross the blood and brain barriers and Kashiwada (2006) reported the presence of nanoparticles in fish embryos and adults. Polystyrene is the most studied and reported plastic pollutant in the marine environment  and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) most identified microplastics particles. Galloway  also found studies that demonstrated the ability of particles in diameter less than 50nm to pass into the bloodstream, the liver, then via the bile and the small intestine and end up being excreted with the faeces. Similarly, Koelmans, et al.  reviewed studies that reported evidence of nanoparticles uptake by the chorion of medaka (Oryzias latipes) eggs, passing into the yolk and the gallbladder during their embryonic growth and an accumulation in the intestine, gill, brain, liver, testis and the blood of the adults species. Studies have indicated that human exposure to microplastics and nano plastics is mostly through the diet [3,6,8,26,27]. Other human exposure routes are dust, soils, plants, textiles, industry and general waste [28,29].
Following the literature review and supporting the aims, several hypotheses were proposed:
a) H1: there is a low consumer perception of the
environmental and food safety threats of micro-nanoplastics.
b) H2: there is no significant difference in the consumer awareness of microplastics and nanoplastics.
c) H3: the consumers’ awareness of the adverse effects of microplastics and nanoplastics is not linked to their education and the social group.
d) H4: awareness would heighten the consumers desire to support plastic reduction strategies.
The study is twofold; a small group online survey supported by a critical literature review of relevant literature, published in recent years up to March 2020. The emphasis was on the presence of microplastics and nano plastics in the food chain. The survey was carried out using JISC online (formerly Bristol Online) and the questionnaire was designed to assess the consumer perception of the safety threats of microplastics and nano plastics and attitude towards the reduction of the use of plastics. This research project complied with the university’s ethical guidelines.
The Literature Search Strategy
The selection of research and review articles was limited to papers published in English and more likely where an abstract was available. The literature search started in the beginning of March 2020 on science direct, EBSCOhost the university library search access, the library e-book collection, and google scholar. The references were stored in the RefWorks citing software authorised by the university. It was also used to search for research papers that came across while looking at other articles. RefWorks allows the acknowledgment of people’s work directly on the document as well as the management of those references into a project folder. The keywords used for the journal articles search were the following words on their own or a combination of them: microplastics, nano plastics, food safety, marine environment, environmental pollution, and sustainability and consumer awareness. For the last keyword used, consumer awareness it was considered relevant to conduct a consumer survey to assess the people’s understanding about the topical issue of microplastics and nano plastics in the environment and the potential risk it could cause to food safety and to human health.
The Survey and Questionnaire
The survey was anonymous, and the data was stored in the university database to comply with data protection GDPR (The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 requirements). The distribution of the survey was done using its link which was sent via LinkedIn, WhatsApp, email, and Facebook with specificity of only UK BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) residents to participate. The participants gave their consent by completing the survey questionnaire with a covering letter which explained the time it would take to complete it, the aim of the survey, the right to withdraw and how the data will be stored and for how long. It also advised about the probable use of quotation from open questions answered. The questionnaire had different parts which were as follows:
a) Part 1: the origin and awareness of microplastics and
b) Part 2: awareness of the environmental and food safety implications of microplastics and nanoplastics.
c) Part 3: knowledge of schemes and policies for reduction of plastics.
d) Part 4: the participant’s demographics.
Critical Evaluation of Literature
Micro and Nano Plastics in the Environment
Microplastics and nano plastics are ubiquitous in the
environment, they can be found in every corner of the world, from
the Artic to China, the United States via the Persian Gulf to Europe,
Australia and Africa. The plastics debris in the environment as
per the study by Geyer, et al.  gave an account of about 8300
million metric tons of new plastics produced in 2015, about 6300
million metric tons have been wasted, 79% has ended in landfills,
9% recycled and 12% incinerated. It has been estimated that by
2050, approximately 12 000 million metric tons of plastics will
be accumulated in landfills. The estimate in the ocean is about 1
million tons of plastic debris per square mile  with 7000 to 35000
tons floating in the open oceans and basins . Furthermore
Galloway  predicted that by 2050 there will be 33 billion tons
more plastics particles on the planet and Farady  speculated that
the plastics debris by weight will be greater than fish in the aquatic
environment. These figures parallel the estimates for microplastics
and nano plastics in the environment as the plastics degenerates
into smaller fragments instead of demineralising [5,20]. The
degradation could take centuries, (Farady 2019)  stated that
1mm of microplastics could take up to 3 centuries to become nano
plastics in a normal marine environment.
In the Netherlands sewage wastewater, Van Wezel et al. projected the concentration of primary microplastics released from cosmetics and other cleaning, washing and personal care products to be between 0.2micro grams/ L to 66micro grams/L at sewage treatment plant. Oni, et al.  showed that the predominant microplastics in a lake in Nigeria (Africa) were polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which respectively account for 72.63% and 10.9% of particles during the dry season. The concentrations in the rainy season were 81.5% plasticised PVC and 4.2% for low density polyethylene (LDPE).
Micro and Nano plastics in Food
Several studies have shown the presence of micro- and nano- sized plastic particles in the food chain, for example, Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen ’s study on microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption, Galloway ’s book chapter on micro- and nano plastics and human health; Santillo, et al.  microplastics as contaminants in seafood; Li, et al. ’s on microplastics in mussels from UK coastal waters and supermarkets. Others [13,14,20,32,33] investigated microplastics in seafood destined for human consumption and found that the contamination level of seafood sampled from the northern area of the Persian Gulf is about 0.2 to 21 particles per gram (wet weight). Li et al.  found a higher amount of microplastics in cooked mussels, about 1.4 particles per gram and 0.9 particles per gram in live mussels, thus suggesting a potential contamination during the processing of the product. Kutralam-Muniasamy et al.  analysed 23 samples of milk from different brands for sale and found 3 ± 2 to 11 ± 3.54 particles per litre with an overall average of 6.5 ± 2.3 particles per litre. Similarly, in China, Tong et al.  found 440 ± 225 particles, mainly polypropylene and polyethylene in tap water.
Investigation by Al-Sid-Cheikh et al.  showed a whole-body uptake of nano plastics especially those in size range of 24nm by Pecten maximus, a commercial popular mollusc and Sökmen et al.  found that polystyrene nano plastics (20nm) can bioaccumulate and cause damages to the DNA in the brain tissue of the embryo of zebrafish (Danio rerio). These demonstrated the ability of nano plastics to migrate across cellular membranes. Nano plastics can penetrate deep tissues and edible parts of fish, cause reproduction and growth defects, metabolic disorder and even death [4,7,25]. The study of the pacific mole crab (Emerita analoga) by Horn et al.  showed that microfibre contamination affects its fecundity and is manifested as a reduction in egg retention and a differential rate of embryonic development. There is also an increase in mortality amongst the pacific mole crab population exposed to microplastics compared to their control group.
Consumer Awareness of Micro and Nano Plastics
Very few studies have assessed the consumer understanding of
the environmental and food safety issues concerning microplastics
and nano plastics. Some of the studies assessed the consumer
understanding based on use of body care products [15,29,37,38],
plastic packaging and their end of life management [39,40],
consumption of seafood  and other studies assessed the
perceptions of plastic waste management  and the effectiveness
of abatement campaigns . Chang  assessed the awareness
of microplastics in facial exfoliating products used regularly by
students and found that the students have no knowledge about
the content of their facial products and didn’t realise that so many
microplastic particles (5000g of microplastic - the equivalent of
2500 Ziploc sandwich bags (16.5cm × 14.9cm) were washed off
every year through the use of their favourite products.
Anderson et al.  carried out a study on the knowledge of microplastics in microbeads in personal care products using 3 focus groups: students, environmentalists and beauticians all with a mean age of 22 and mostly women. The participants were shocked and concerned especially when they found that the microbeads were made of plastics and are not of natural ingredients, do not disintegrate once washed off and end up in oceans via waste waters. The participants felt that the microbeads were not necessary and natural. The concern led them to suggest the following: clear labelling to enable an informed choice and more stringent measures from the government on manufacturers, for example, imposing a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics. Policy like this exists, in the US where the Microbeads Free Waters Act voted in 2015 stopped the manufacture of rinse off microbeads from July 2017 . Anderson et al.  concluded that people have a greater sense of awareness when they can visualise the issue. They do stress the fact that education and raising awareness is not enough and that legislations are needed especially when the figures say that in the UK per year, about 680 tons of microbeads are used and in Europe 4130 tons with Switzerland and Norway included.
Peberdy, et al.  assessed the people’s awareness of the impact of disposable menstrual sanitary products on the environment and found that the participants in majority were not aware of the plastic content of the products and hence the adverse environmental impact. They concluded that raising the awareness of the issue could positively shift purchasing habit of the consumers. The consumers were willing to forfeit the convenience and affordability of disposable pads. Henderson and Green  instead tried to assess the consumer understanding of plastics pollution, with a focus on microplastics. They ‘ve used different focus groups made of people of different works of life with different interests and activities and level of education. Their results showed that websites and television are the major information source for microplastics. In general, the focus groups have no knowledge about microplastics pollution but have heard of it in the news.
There is not a legislation per se that regulates micro- and nano
plastics or considers micro and nano plastics as contaminants in
foodstuff. However, there are few initiatives in responding to the
issue from the European Union (EU), Africa, the World Health
Organisation (WHO), the United States (US) and the United Kingdom
(UK) in particular. Almost all the initiatives are for the reduction
of plastic litter in the environment, the concern for the risk posed
to human health is increasing as the evidence of their presence in
seafood and effects on the metabolic functions of marine organisms
In the United States (US), the manufacture of cosmetic products that rinse off plastics microbeads was banned from the 1st of July 2017 . In 2018, the United Kingdom (UK) followed, by imposing a similar ban on manufacture of microbeads . The ban even though welcomed by campaigners is deficient as the use of microplastic particles in lipsticks, sun creams and paints are exempted. Furthermore in 2019, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) UK, was tasked with a two-year research to assess the microbiological risk that contaminated microplastics could pose to human health . Several plastic-reduction initiatives were introduced in the UK, amongst them the introduction in October 2015 of a charge, 5 pence on single use carrier bag. Again the achievement of objective of the initiative was partial as there are some exemptions, retailers with less than 250 employees were excluded and the money raised did not go to the government’s treasury instead the UK companies were encouraged to make charitable use of the profits . In 2018, the charge was raised to 10 pence with effect from January 2020, as the current consumption of single use carrier bags was estimated to be around 4.5 billion which the government aimed to reduce by the third year of the policy to 521 million. There are no published stats yet to ascertain whether it has been met . Northern Ireland which introduced a 5p levy since 2013 was able to get the plastic bag usage down from 300 million to just under 100 million in 2017/2018. This is a ⅔ reduction in about 5 years. They have also managed to raise about 2.2 million pounds for their environmental fund .
The United Kingdom government was thinking of introducing a 25 pence “latte levy” on disposable cups hoping that consumers will change their habits and use more reusable cups . There are about 7 million coffee cups that are used daily in the United Kingdom of which only 1 in 400 is recycled which equates to a recycling rate of 0.25%. The cup producers failed according to Maye, et al.  to take responsibilities. The UK cost of recycling is down to 90% from taxpayer’s money and 10% from businesses whereas in Germany it is 100% down from the producers. In France, the authorities instead are imposing more charges on businesses for putting more non-recyclable materials into the system. In the UK, the ‘packaging producer responsibility scheme’ is not working as it should according to the December 2017 audit report of the UK government, thus the publication in July 2019 of a ‘plastic packaging tax’ which will charge £200 per tons of plastic packaging that does not meet the requirement for 30% content of recycled plastic . There will also be an introduction of a ‘Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) ‘15 pence per container and funded by the packaging tax revenue . A legislation on single use plastics such as straws, plastic cotton buds stem and plastics stirrers, is awaiting approval as a statutory instrument . There is also a new environmental bill on a charge for single use plastic items. At European level, a proposal directive (EU) 2019/904 has been agreed and published by the member states which sets out the restriction on intentional use of microplastics by 2030 as well as the reduction of single use plastics. They also aim to make all plastic packaging in the EU market recyclable  by 2030. Portugal, like the United Kingdom introduced a tax on plastic bags in 2015 to implement the European directive 94/62/ EC which was amended by the directive 2018 / 852 on packaging waste. It resulted in a 74% reduction in the use of plastic carrier bags and an increase in the use of reusable ones (68%) . The charge on plastic bags and single use plastics policy is implemented to some extent worldwide and appears to be a key driver for the reduction of the use of plastics.
In Africa, many countries have policies to reduce the use and the sale of single use plastic bags, but enforcement is slack . In 2011, Australia introduced a ban on single use plastics and a reduction in the use of conventional polyethylene bags by about 2600 tonnes by 2018. This reduction over seven years was not significant and the issue was compounded by an increase in the use of other types of plastics. However, the support for scheme by the communities rose significantly from 58% at the beginning of the ban in 2011 to 68% in 2018 . Non statutory controls are widely available to raise public awareness and encourage the recycling of plastic materials as well as the use of alternatives. In the UK, there are sound local authority strategies to tackle plastic waste and encourage recycling, households are provided with specific recycling bins and bags, increasing the collection and the type of recyclable items, raising awareness by improving communication or investing in waste abatement campaigns .
a) The Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP)
is a registered UK charity which works with communities,
businesses and governments to help them find practical
solutions to improve resources efficiency, in collaboration with
the UK governments and other stakeholders, designed the UK
Plastics Pact which aim to achieve 4 key targets by 2025:
b) 100% plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable,
c) 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
d) take actions to eliminate the problem of single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse).
e) achieve a 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.
The UK government 25-year plan aims to eliminate all avoidable plastic by the year 2042 [42,51]. There are so many schemes that manufacturers and food retailers are using to reduce plastic waste and promote the use of more sustainable materials. For examples, Tesco with its Reuse and Repeat bags, Iceland which has introduced a paper shopping bag and Coop with a biodegradable compostable bag. There is a surging trend of shops where people can purchase groceries by bringing their own containers. Such initiatives can be seen on websites such as Werth London  which help people interested in more eco-friendly shopping experience, locate the “Best Zero Waste Shops” around London and the UK. Local authorities also contribute by implementing schemes at local level to help reduce plastic waste and encourage recycling from households and businesses around their boroughs.
Results and Discussion
The research was two pronged, a critical review supported by a small group survey. The former focusing on the presence of micronano plastic in the environment and food plus control systems, consumers and stake holder’s awareness and behaviour studies. 69.4% of the participants (n=72) were of black ethnicity (Figure 1). The hypotheses (H1 to H4) raised were supported to some extent, H1 was partially proven, there was a general awareness of the environmental threat of plastics, microplastics and nano plastics but no clear conclusion on the food safety threat. H2 was unproven as the awareness was quite greater for microplastics (77.8%) than nano plastics (56.9%). It can be concluded that majority of the participants were aware of these plastic fragments. Unsurprisingly, H3 was not supported, the level of awareness, at a glance, correlates positively with the participants’ education and social group (Figure 2), 87.5% of the participants had higher education and 30.6% had an income above £40,000, well above the UK national average income of £29,600, Office for National Statistics’s . The result is expected as the more educated participants are likely to be higher earners and consequently better resourced to access an online survey. A wider poll involving non-online survey may provide a conclusive result. Finally, H4 was proven, the consumers were strongly in favour of the reduction strategies thus agreed with Chang  and Willis, et al.  who showed that awareness is crucial for a positive change in behaviour.
Analysis of the publications showed that there is an increasing awareness and that microplastics are widely found in aquatic organisms, thus consumption of these is a direct route to ingestion by human. Furthermore, the review showed that the awareness campaigns play a significant role, for example, Willis, et al.  found evidence of successful waste abatement campaign in Australia which has quite similar system as the UK. Thus, the campaign in the UK should be reinforced and relentless and more so as the awareness led to a shift towards plastic reduction strategies. Furthermore, Willis, et al.  also showed that investments in awareness campaigns rather than policies work best at reducing plastic litter. The key findings and conclusions are summarised (Tables 1 and 2).
The Small Group Survey: The Consumer Perception- A Global Approach
Table 3 summarised the small group survey which as a whole has informed on the level of understanding by the participants of the origin of micro- and nano plastics, their presence in the food chain and the means by which they become aware of the issues. It also highlighted the attitude towards the reduction of plastics litter, the understanding of government and local authorities’ schemes and initiatives. There was also a glimpse of the link between the level of awareness and education and earnings within the group (Figure 2). The results in all cases showed low standard deviation and a coefficient of variation less than one (CV >= 1). The survey like the literature suggested that awareness campaign is the main driver for consumer perception of the safety threat of plastics and the positive change in behaviour towards the use of plastics. The focus appears to be on plastics instead of their degradation products. Chang  showed that consumers were not aware that the exfoliating agents contain microplastics. These unlike plastics litters lack visibility. There is no clarity of the consumer’s ability to distinguish plastics from microplastic or nano plastic although the consumers’ awareness of micro-nano plastics lags the awareness for plastics. Over 30 questions were posed but the analysis focused on direct questions on awareness and understanding of the safety of microplastics and nano plastics in the environment and in food. There were 72 (n=72) respondents.
A. The Demographics: There were 72 respondents, 68.1% women mostly from the black and black British backgrounds (Figure 1) and of the age range 35 to 44 years (41.7%). The latter was consistent with the mean age of people in the WRAP (2019) study which assessed whether consumer awareness of plastic litter has changed since their study in 2012. 87.5 % of the participants have reached higher education with the majority in other disciplines followed by 30.6 % (22 participants) having a scientific background. The households have between 3 to 4 people (55.5%) with the majority earning above £30000 a year of which more than ⅔ earning above £40000 a year (30.6% of participants).
B. Awareness of Micro-nanoplastics and Behaviour on the use of Plastic Bags: Surprisingly, 77.8% and 56.9% (Table 1) of the participants were aware of microplastics and nanoplastics. The news and TV documentaries are the main information sources, mirroring the findings by Anderson, et al.  and Henderson and Green . 42% of participants knew the origin of microplastics and nanoplastics and 82% participants cited the ocean and beauty products as the major sources (Figure 3). Other sources mentioned were plastic bottles and packaging. In fact, a participant quoted that “I think they originate from either toiletries or are created via the attrition of plastic waste, then get into the ocean and then from there into sea life and the food chain thus, all of the options”. 86.1% of the participants (62) said that they are using products containing microbeads with 50% of the participants having about 5 or more items in their cupboards, which is very similar to Chang’s  result, on the usage of facial exfoliating products by students.
It was also found that 91.7% of the participants reuse bags for shopping, with 66.7% of the respondents supporting the complete removal of plastic bags and packaging from supermarket shelves and their replacement with bags made from eco-friendly, biodegradable and compostable materials such as cotton, paper and jute. 72.2% of respondents are happy to pay more for their product if the packaging was biodegradable and if it helps the environment and the product is still affordable. It was also suggested that ‘bring your own container’ can be used for non- packaged products. However, the role of packaging in product integrity and shelf-life cannot be dismissed. The respondents by 70.8% strongly agree that the reduction in single use plastics could help reduce plastic waste and 54.2 % think the government charge for single use plastics bags does also help and argued that the 5-p charge is not high enough as a deterrent. These are in line with the finding that majority of consumer preferred 100% biodegradable packaging WRAP (2019). The deterrents suggested are increasing price increment of the plastic bags and the adoption of the use of biodegradable bags as best practice by manufacturers and retailers. Friedrich, et al.  showed that this approach would not lead to price increment and quality reduction.
C. Management of Waste at Local Authority level: 94.4%
of the participants do recycle their plastic wastes but in majority
are not able to estimate the amount of plastic waste they generate,
nor the amount collected by their local authority. However, over
50% are aware of the recycling schemes and initiatives including
the provision of dedicated bins and compostable bags. Another
Research Article on the question suggests that motivation is always a good
thing, but it should be the people’s obligation to recycle not just
their good will.
D. Consumption of Seafood and Food Safety: The literature presented a strong evidence for the presence of microplastics in the tissues of seafood and fish [16,33,59,60] and speculated on the potential risk to human through consumption. The risk may be insignificant as our study showed that 86.1% of respondents (62) ate little amount of seafood and the consumption is infrequent. However over 80% believed that food can be contaminated with micro- and nanoplastics and that these particles can be toxic and /or can carry toxic materials. Thus, the food safety concern of microplastics and nanoplastics remains heightened and may trigger changes in seafood consumption .
The overall impression is that the consumers are very much
aware of the topical issue of plastic litter and pollution but not
so much aware of microplastics nor nano plastic as these are
generally invisible. This may hinder the consumer’s perception of
their environmental and food safety threats as Anderson, et al. 
stated, that if the consumer cannot visualise the issue, they cannot
act, thus the necessity for more consumer awareness campaign.
A similar observation was made by Chang  who showed that
consumers are ready to change their behaviour after being aware
of the issue. This was also demonstrated in this survey as it showed
a good level of awareness amongst the participants who are already
making changes but require more support from the local authorities,
the retail industry and other stakeholders. The awareness led the
participants to suggest that the solution would be a complete ban
of single use plastic or raising awareness and encouraging people
to reuse single use plastic where possible several times and then
Additionally, introduction of more stringent measures by local authorities favoured by a majority of 81.9%. The overall sentiment that comes from their comments is that more public advertisements are needed, all stakeholders need to take their responsibilities [61,66] and incentive based on rent or council tax reduction should be introduced to motivate people to effectively recycle. The threat posed by micro-nano plastics can be extrapolated from the high level of awareness of the environmental threat of plastics, but the question of the potential food safety threat remains. There is also a sense that the level of awareness could be related to level of education as most respondents have reached higher education, but it was not possible to statistically prove it.
Conflicts of Interest
There is none as the research is not funded by any external body.
The research was carried out at London South Bank University. The authors would like to acknowledge the technical support of Mr Ken Unadkat and Mr William Cheung.
a. The level of awareness of microplastics and nanoplastics
were 77.8% and 56.9% respectively.
b. 82% participants cited the ocean and beauty products as the major sources of microplastics and nanoplastics.
c. There was a strong evidence for the presence of microplastics in the tissues of seafood and fish, but the risk may be insignificant as 86.1% of respondents ate little amount of seafood and the consumption is infrequent.
d. The level of awareness of microplastics and nanoplastics is positively linked with the participants’ education and income.
e. 69.4% of the participants (n=72) were of black ethnicity.
f. The participants’ support for plastic reduction schemes were overwhelmingly favourable.
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