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Title: Personal care and cosmetic products as a potential source of environmental contamination by microplastics in a densely populated Asian city
Authors: Bashir, SM
Kimiko, S
Mak, CW 
Fang, JKH 
Gonçalves, D
Issue Date: Jun-2021
Source: Frontiers in marine science, June 2021, v. 8, 683482
Abstract: The prevalence of microplastics in the environment has become a major global conservation issue. One primary source of environmental microplastics is personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs) containing microbeads. The market availability of PCCPs containing microbeads and the level of contamination of coastal sediments by microplastics was studied in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Macao in China. We found that PCCPs containing microbeads are still widely available for sale in the region, with over 70% of surveyed PCCPs containing at least one type of microbeads as an ingredient, with polyethylene (PE) being the most common one. In an estimate, the use of PCCPs in the territory may release over 37 billion microbeads per year into the environment via wastewater treatment plants. The density of microplastics in coastal sediments varied between 259 and 1,743 items/L of sediment, amongst the highest reported in the world. The fraction of < 1 mm was the most abundant, representing an average of 98.6% of the total, and correlated positively with the abundance of larger sized fragments. The results show that although environmental pollution with microplastics released from PCCPs usage is significant, other sources, namely fragmentation of larger plastic debris, likely contribute more to the issue. The study highlights the magnitude of the problem at a local level and suggests possible mitigating strategies.
Keywords: Macao
Pearl River Estuary
Personal care products
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Journal: Frontiers in marine science 
EISSN: 2296-7745
DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.683482
Rights: © 2021 Bashir, Kimiko, Mak, Fang and Gonçalves. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
The following publication Bashir SM, Kimiko S, Mak CW, Fang JKH and Gonçalves D (2021) Personal Care and Cosmetic Products as a Potential Source of Environmental Contamination by Microplastics in a Densely Populated Asian City. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:683482 is available at
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