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Uncertainty about the risks associated with microplastics among lay and topic‐experienced respondents

Uncertainty about the risks associated with microplastics among lay and topic‐experienced respondents
Uncertainty about the risks associated with microplastics among lay and topic‐experienced respondents
Microplastics are contaminants of emerging concern but there is currently a lack of evidence on actual risks relating to them, despite claims in media and scientific articles. Research on people’s perceptions on microplastics is in its infancy. Here we present part of a larger survey about people’s perceptions of issues with microplastics. Our analysis of 1681 responses across the globe to an online questionnaire demonstrates a certain level of uncertainty, not only in lay people but also respondents who study/work on the topic of plastics and microplastics as a pollutant. This uncertainty ranges from level of concern about microplastics as an environmental issue to existing evidence for effects. Further, there is some discrepancy between risk perception and state of the research. Some of this may be driven by scientific work with some serious limitations in reporting and methods. This highlights the need for fact-checking of circulating information about microplastics, but also for addressing the discordance between ecotoxicological risk and how risk is framed within the scientific community.
2045-2322
7155
Thiele, Christina Johanna
7119e77e-cc82-4ccc-b675-162aa8109491
Hudson, Malcolm
1ae18506-6f2a-48af-8c72-83ab28679f55
Thiele, Christina Johanna
7119e77e-cc82-4ccc-b675-162aa8109491
Hudson, Malcolm
1ae18506-6f2a-48af-8c72-83ab28679f55

Thiele, Christina Johanna and Hudson, Malcolm (2021) Uncertainty about the risks associated with microplastics among lay and topic‐experienced respondents. Scientific Reports, 11 (1), 7155, [7155]. (doi:10.1038/s41598-021-86569-5).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Microplastics are contaminants of emerging concern but there is currently a lack of evidence on actual risks relating to them, despite claims in media and scientific articles. Research on people’s perceptions on microplastics is in its infancy. Here we present part of a larger survey about people’s perceptions of issues with microplastics. Our analysis of 1681 responses across the globe to an online questionnaire demonstrates a certain level of uncertainty, not only in lay people but also respondents who study/work on the topic of plastics and microplastics as a pollutant. This uncertainty ranges from level of concern about microplastics as an environmental issue to existing evidence for effects. Further, there is some discrepancy between risk perception and state of the research. Some of this may be driven by scientific work with some serious limitations in reporting and methods. This highlights the need for fact-checking of circulating information about microplastics, but also for addressing the discordance between ecotoxicological risk and how risk is framed within the scientific community.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 30 March 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 448013
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/448013
ISSN: 2045-2322
PURE UUID: ccf6d5f6-2495-41f8-b539-9559706f0fad
ORCID for Christina Johanna Thiele: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3160-1189

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Date deposited: 30 Mar 2021 16:33
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 02:31

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