Background: Studies have confirmed the ubiquitous presence of microplastics in every environmental compartment, and their number is rising year by year. Despite the fact that important efforts are being made in many countries to try to reduce microplastics contamination, it is very likely that their presence will continue to increase since plastic degradation is a long-term procedure. Current scientific data in this field is only the tip of a huge iceberg in which hand in hand research with scientists of different disciplines is absolutely necessary to draw a clear map of their origin, transport dynamics, distribution and effects.
Methods: A brief overview (perspective article) of current research topics on microplastics, the problems that they must face as well as those gaps that should be solved in the future are reviewed.
Results: Standardized and validated methodologies for microplastics quantification and identification are needed. The analysis of organic and inorganic contaminants retained onto microplastics is also a key issue. The study of the presence, behavior, and fate of microplastics in the environment (in all the environmental compartments), as well as the toxicity and dietary exposure studies, are also extremely necessary.
Conclusion: A better understanding of the concentration, source, and hazards of microplastics in every environmental compartment is still needed, especially in the terrestrial environment and atmosphere. There is also the need of applying harmonized and validated analytical methodologies to provide feasible results and to allow a suitable comparison.