Effects of nanoplastics and microplastics on toxicity, bioaccumulation, and environmental fate of phenanthrene in fresh water

Contamination of fine plastic particles (FPs), including micrometer to millimeter plastics (MPs) and nanometer plastics (NPs), in the environment has caught great concerns. FPs are strong adsorbents for hydrophobic toxic pollutants and may affect their fate and toxicity in the environment; however, such information is still rare. We studied joint toxicity of FPs with phenanthrene to Daphnia magna and effects of FPs on the environmental fate and bioaccumulation of 14C-phenanthrene in fresh water. Within the five sizes particles we tested (from 50 nm to 10 μm), 50-nm NPs showed significant toxicity and physical damage to D. magna. The joint toxicity of 50-nm NPs and phenanthrene to D. magna showed an additive effect. During a 14-days incubation, the presence of NPs significantly enhanced bioaccumulation of phenanthrene-derived residues in daphnid body and inhibited the dissipation and transformation of phenanthrene in the medium, while 10-μm MPs did not show significant effects on the bioaccumulation, dissipation, and transformation of phenanthrene. The differences may be attributed to higher adsorption of phenanthrene on 50-nm NPs than 10-μm MPs. Our findings underlined the high potential ecological risks of FPs, and suggested that NPs should be given more concerns, in terms of their interaction with hydrophobic pollutants in the environment.

Yini Ma, Anna Huang, Siqi Cao, Feifei Sun, Lianhong Wang, Hongyan Guo, Rong Ji, Environmental Pollution, Volume 219, December 2016, Pages 166–173

The article


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