Assessing the impact of chronic and acute plastic pollution from construction activities and other anthropogenic sources: A case study from the coast of Antofagasta, Chile

This paper reviews the significant source of plastic contamination arising from improper application and management of expanded polystyrene (EPS) that is used as expansion joints at a construction site near the coast of Antofagasta, Chile. From the field observations and calculations, it was estimated that a staggering 82.9 million EPS spheres have the potential to be released into the environment from the 7.62 m3 of this material that was used for the construction of this coastal promenade, which constitutes a chronic source of pollution. This study documents the misuse of construction materials that contribute to plastic pollution. In addition to the EPS pollution, findings also reveal the accumulation of litter such as plastic cups, bottles, carrier bags, and several other construction materials (e.g., plastic nets, and films) that exacerbate the pollution problems within the region and potentially endanger marine and terrestrial organisms. The observations from this study highlight the urgent need for mitigating measures and intervention policies targeting construction-related plastic and microplastic pollution, along with a more robust regulatory framework for construction activities as well as adequate surveillance and enforcement.

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