In an article published on November 22, 2018, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) stated: “[M]icroplastics that are added to products are more likely to be released to, and accumulate in, terrestrial and freshwater environments rather than the oceans.”

This conclusion comes from ECHA’s assessment of the environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics once they are released from products. “Many of these microplastics are washed down the drain at the point of use” and “[d]ue to how wastewater is treated in the EU, these microplastics will not typically be released directly to aquatic environments, but are more likely to concentrate in sewage sludge that is frequently applied to agricultural soils as a fertilizer in many Member States,” ECHA’s senior scientific officer, Peter Simpson, explained. ECHA also published a video on the same day explaining the overall “problem with microplastics.”

In January 2018, as part of its plastics strategy, the European Commission (EC) mandated ECHA to investigate the environmental and human health risks of oxo-degradable plastics and intentionally added microplastics in order to prepare restriction proposals for the two (FPF reported). The restriction proposal for microplastics is expected to be finalized by early 2019 and sent to the EC by April 2020 after review by ECHA’s scientific committees.

Also microplastics that are unintentionally formed through degradation and fragmentation processes of larger plastic pieces are commonly detected in freshwater and soil.

Read more

ECHA (November 22, 2018). “Intentionally added microplastics likely to accumulate in terrestrial and freshwater environments.

ECHA (November 22, 2018). “The problem with microplastics.YouTube

Andrew Turley (November 22, 2018). “Intentional microplastics are primarily a soil and freshwater problem, ECHA finds.Chemical Watch

Plastics News Europe (November 29, 2018). “ECHA to study pan-EU restriction on microplastics.