Suspended micro-sized PVC particles impair the performance and decrease survival in the Asian green mussel Perna viridis

Marine bivalves are known to ingest microplastics, but information on the consequences for their physiological performance is limited. To investigate a potential exposure pathway that has not yet been addressed, we mimicked the resuspension of microplastics from the sediment in a laboratory exposure experiment. For this, we exposed the Asian green mussel Perna viridis to 4 concentrations (0 mg/l, 21.6 mg/l, 216 mg/l, 2160 mg/l) of suspended polyvinylchloride (PVC) particles (1–50 μm) for two 2-hour-time-periods per day. After 44 days, mussel filtration and respiration rates as well as byssus production were found to be a negative function of particle concentration. Furthermore, within 91 days of exposure, mussel survival declined with increasing PVC abundance. These negative effects presumably go back to prolonged periods of valve closure as a reaction to particle presence. We suggest that microplastics constitute a new seston component that exerts a stress comparable to natural suspended solids.

Sinja Elena Rist, Khoirunnisa Assidqi, Neviaty Putri Zamani and al.,  Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 1 August 2016, In Press

The article

Plastics and microplastics on recreational beaches in Punta del Este (Uruguay): Unseen critical residents ?

Beaches are social-ecological systems that provide several services improving human well-being. However, as one of the major coastal interfaces they are subject to plastic pollution, one of the most significant global environmental threats at present. For the first time for Uruguayan beaches, this study assessed and quantified the accumulation of plastic and microplastic debris on sandy beaches of the major touristic destination Punta del Este during the austral spring of 2013. Aiming to provide valuable information for decision-making, we performed a detailed analysis of plastic debris, their eventual transport pathways to the coast (from land and sea), and the associated persistent pollutants. The results indicated that the smallest size fractions (<20 mm) were the dominant size range, with fragments and resin pellets as types with the highest number of items. PAHs and PCBs were found in plastic debris, and their levels did not differ from baseline values reported for similar locations. The abundance of plastic debris was significantly and positively correlated with both the presence of possible land-based sources (e.g. storm-water drains, beach bars, beach access, car parking, and roads), and dissipative beach conditions. The analysis of coastal currents suggested some potential deposition areas along Punta del Este, and particularly for resin pellets, although modeling was not conclusive. From a local management point of view, the development and use of indices that allow predicting trends in the accumulation of plastic debris would be critically useful. The time dimension (e.g. seasonal) should also be considered for this threat, being crucial for locations such as Uruguay, where the use of beaches increases significantly during the summer. This first diagnosis aims to generate scientific baseline, necessary for improved management of plastic litter on beaches and their watersheds.

J.P. Lozoya, F. Teixeira de Mello, D. Carrizo and al., Environmental Pollution, Available online 21 August 2016, In Press

The article

Origin of marine debris is related to disposable packs of ultra-processed food

Marine debris is currently distributed worldwide, and the discard and contamination pose hazards to human and wildlife health. One of the gaps in debris science is tracking the source of debris to better evaluate and avoid the pathway of debris from the source to marine environment. For this, we evaluated three beaches of different urbanization levels and environmental influences; a low urbanized beach, a highly urbanized beach and a non-urbanized estuary-associated beach, in order to determine the sources and original use of debris. Plastic was the major material found on beaches, and the urbanized beach recorded the highest debris densities. Marine debris was primarily from land-based sources, and the debris recorded in all beaches was mainly assigned as food-related items. Our results highlight the major presence of disposable and short-lived products comprising the majority of debris that enters the ocean and draw attention to the unsustainable lifestyle of current society.

Ryan Andrades, Agnaldo S. Martins, Lorena M. Fardim, Juliana S. Ferreira, Robson G. Santos, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 109, Issue 1, 15 August 2016, Pages 192–195

The article

Elemental concentrations and bioaccessibilities in beached plastic foam litter, with particular reference to lead in polyurethane

Seventy samples of foamed plastic collected from a high-energy, sandy beach in SW England have been characterised by FTIR and XRF. Most samples were polyurethane (PU; n = 39) or polystyrene (PS; n = 27) that were associated with variable concentrations of Br-Cl, Fe and Zn, indicative of the presence of halogenated flame retardants, iron oxides and Zn-based additives, respectively. Many samples of rigid PU contained Pb, historically used as a catalyst, at concentrations of up to 16,000 μg g− 1. A physiological extraction test that simulates the conditions in the gizzard of plastic-ingesting seabirds was applied to selected samples and results revealed that while Br and Zn were not measurably bioaccessible, Pb mobilisation progressed logarithmically over a period of time with maximum accessibilities after 220 h of ~ 10% of total metal. Foamed PU is a source of bioaccessible Pb in the marine environment that has not previously been documented.

Andrew Turner, Kwan S. Lau, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 15 August 2016, In Press

The article

Long-term microplastic retention causes reduced body condition in the langoustine, Nephrops norvegicus

Microplastic represents a rising proportion of marine litter and is widely distributed throughout a range of marine habitats. Correspondingly, the number of reports of species containing microplastics increases annually. Nephrops norvegicus in the Firth of Clyde have previously been shown to retain large aggregations of microplastic fibres. The potential for N. norvegicus to retain plastic over an extended time period increases the likelihood of any associated negative impacts to the individual. This study represents the longest observation of the impacts of microplastic retention in invertebrates. We exposed N. norvegicus to plastic over eight months to determine the impacts of extended exposure. Over this period we compared the feeding rate, body mass, and nutritional state of plastic-fed N. norvegicus to that of fed and starved control groups. Following the experimental period, the plastic-fed langoustine contained microplastic aggregations comparable to those of small individuals from the Clyde Sea Area. Comparisons between fed, unfed and plastic-fed individuals indicated a reduction in feeding rate, body mass, and metabolic rate as well as catabolism of stored lipids in plastic contaminated animals. We conclude that N. norvegicus exposed to high levels of environmental microplastic pollution may experience reduced nutrient availability. This can result in reduced population stability and may affect the viability of local fisheries.

Natalie A.C. Welden, Phillip R. Cowie, Environmental Pollution, Available online 11 August 2016, In Press

The article


Microplastic exposure studies should be environmentally realistic

To understand the impact of microplastic (MP) pollution to aquatic ecosystems, it is important to identify the mechanisms of interaction with organisms. Exposure experiments, like the study of Sussarellu et al. (1) recently published in PNAS, may provide such insights. However, the results of dose–response experiments must always be interpreted in light of environmental concentrations, and the experimental concentrations examined by Sussarellu et al. (1) and several others (2⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓–8) are orders-of-magnitude higher than those reported from field studies (Fig. 1).

Robin Lenz, Kristina Enders and Torkel Gissel Nielsen, PNAS, vol. 113 no. 29, July 19, 2016

The article