Review of microplastics in museum specimens: An under-utilized tool to better understand the Plasticene

Elsevier, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 191, June 2023, 114922
Ilechukwu I., Das R.R., Reimer J.D.

This study summarises the status of microplastic research in marine and freshwater specimens in natural museum collections around the world. Abundances, distributions, and types of microplastics in the archived collections are discussed. Museum collections can fill knowledge gaps on evolution of microplastic pollution before and during the Plasticene era. The specimens in these studies, ranging from plankton to vertebrates, were collected and archived between 1900 and 2019, and are dominated by specimens from marine ecosystems. All the specimens included in this review were preserved by freezing or in ethanol/formaldehyde except for specimens in one study that were preserved via cryomilling. Microfibers were the most common microplastics in the reviewed studies. We recommend more microplastic studies over a wider taxonomic range of species and across a longer span of years utilizing archival specimen collections around the world in order to establish reference points and develop temporal trends for microplastic pollution of the environment.