Effects of Toxic Leachates from Commercial Plastics on Larval Survival and Settlement of the Barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite

Plastic pollution represents a major and growing global problem. It is well known that plastics are a source of chemical contaminants to the aquatic environment and provide novel habitats for marine organisms. The present study quantified the impacts of plastic leachates from the seven categories of recyclable plastics on larval survival and settlement of barnacle Amphibalanus (=Balanus) amphitrite. Leachates from plastics significantly increased barnacle nauplii mortality at the highest tested concentrations (0.10 and 0.50 m2/L). Hydrophobicity (measured as surface energy) was positively correlated with mortality indicating that plastic surface chemistry may be an important factor in the effects of plastics on sessile organisms. Plastic leachates significantly inhibited barnacle cyprids settlement on glass at all tested concentrations. Settlement on plastic surfaces was significantly inhibited after 24 and 48 h, but settlement was not significantly inhibited compared to the controls for some plastics after 72 to 96 hours. In 24 h exposure to seawater, we found larval toxicity and inhibition of settlement with all 7 categories of recyclable commercial plastics. Chemical analysis revealed a complex mixture of substances released in plastic leachates. Leaching of toxic compounds from all plastics should be considered when assessing the risks of plastic pollution.

Hengxiang Li, Gordon James Getzinger, P.Lee Ferguson, Beatriz Orihuela, Mei Zhu, and Daniel Rittschof, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2016, 50 (2), pp 924–931

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