Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Aaron Schrey


This literature review presents the effects of the planet's developing relationship with synthetic polymers, commonly referred to as plastics. While plastic itself harbors carbon recovered from the earth via fossil fuels and natural gas, its subsequent degradation often releases potentially harmful carbon compounds and additives into the natural environment. Phenomena such as trophic transfer and physiological disruption present a variety of effects of degraded plastic particles on vulnerable biota, including hormonal disruption and physical obstruction of gastrointestinal organs. Within this paper, I highlight the types of commonly mismanaged plastics, polymer additives and what types of plastics they accompany, the chemical properties of these components and their toxicological effects on living organisms, and the resulting threats to human communities.