Microplastics are taken up by mussels (Mytilus edulis) and lugworms (Arenicola marina) living in natural habitats

We studied the uptake of microplastics under field conditions. At six locations along the French–Belgian–Dutch coastline we collected two species of marine invertebrates representing different feeding strategies: the blue mussel Mytilus edulis (filter feeder) and the lugworm Arenicola marina (deposit feeder). Additional laboratory experiments were performed to assess possible (adverse) effects of ingestion and translocation of microplastics on the energy metabolism (cellular energy allocation) of these species. Microplastics were present in all organisms collected in the field: on average 0.2 ± 0.3 microplastics g−1 (M. edulis) and 1.2 ± 2.8 particles g−1 (A. marina). In a proof of principle laboratory experiment, mussels and lugworms exposed to high concentrations of polystyrene microspheres (110 particles mL−1 seawater and 110 particles g−1 sediment, respectively) showed no significant adverse effect on the organisms’ overall energy budget. The results are discussed in the context of possible risks as a result of the possible transfer of adsorbed contaminants.

Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe, Michiel Claessens, Michiel B. Vandegehuchte, Colin R. Janssen, Environmental Pollution, Volume 199, Pages 10–17, April 2015

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