Negative effects of microplastic exposure on growth and development of Crepidula onyx

Image 1Microplastics exposure could be detrimental to marine organisms especially under high concentrations. However, few studies have considered the multiphasic nature of marine invertebrates’ life history and investigated the impact of experiencing microplastics during early development on post-metamorphic stages (legacy effect). Many planktonic larvae can feed selectively and it is unclear whether such selectivity could modulate the impact of algal food-sized microplastic. In this two-stage experiment, veligers of Crepidula onyx were first exposed to additions of algae-sized micro-polystyrene (micro-PS) beads at different concentrations, including ones that were comparable their algal diet. These additions were then either halted or continued after settlement. At environmentally relevant concentration (ten 2-μm microplastic beads ml−1), larval and juvenile C. onyx was not affected. At higher concentrations, these micro-PS fed larvae consumed a similar amount of algae compared to those in control but grew relatively slower than those in the control suggesting that ingestion and/or removal of microplastic was/were energetically costly. These larvae also settled earlier at a smaller size compared to the control, which could negatively affect post-settlement success. Juvenile C. onyx receiving continuous micro-PS addition had slower growth rates. Individuals only exposed to micro-PS during their larval stage continued to have slower growth rates than those in the control even if micro-PS had been absent in their surroundings for 65 days highlighting a legacy effect of microplastic exposure.

Hau Kwan Abby Lo, Kit Yu Karen Chan, Environmental Pollution, Volume 233, February 2018, Pages 588–595

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No increase in marine microplastic concentration over the last three decades – A case study from the Baltic Sea

Microplastic is considered a potential threat to marine life as it is ingested by a wide variety of species. Most studies on microplastic ingestion are short-term investigations and little is currently known about how this potential threat has developed over the last decades where global plastic production has increased exponentially. Here we present the first long-term study on microplastic in the marine environment, covering three decades from 1987 to 2015, based on a unique sample set originally collected and conserved for food web studies. We investigated the microplastic concentration in plankton samples and in digestive tracts of two economically and ecologically important planktivorous forage fish species, Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), in the Baltic Sea, an ecosystem which is under high anthropogenic pressure and has undergone considerable changes over the past decades. Surprisingly, neither the concentration of microplastic in the plankton samples nor in the digestive tracts changed significantly over the investigated time period. Average microplastic concentration in the plankton samples was 0.21 ± 0.15 particles m− 3. Of 814 fish examined, 20% contained plastic particles, of which 95% were characterized as microplastic (< 5 mm) and of these 93% were fibres. There were no significant differences in the plastic content between species, locations, or time of day the fish were caught. However, fish size and microplastic in the digestive tracts were positively correlated, and the fish contained more plastic during summer than during spring, which may be explained by increased food uptake with size and seasonal differences in feeding activity. This study highlights that even though microplastic has been present in the Baltic environment and the digestive tracts of fishes for decades, the levels have not changed in this period. This underscores the need for greater understanding of how plastic is cycled through marine ecosystems. The stability of plastic concentration and contamination over time observed here indicates that the type and level of microplastic pollution may be more closely correlated to specific human activities in a region than to global plastic production and utilization as such.

Sabrina Beer, Anders Garm, Bastian Huwer, Jan Dierking, Torkel Gissel Nielsen, Science of The Total Environment, Available online 19 October 2017, In Press

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Microplastic and tar pollution on three Canary Islands beaches: An annual study

Marine debris accumulation was analyzed from three exposed beaches of the Canary Islands (Lambra, Famara and Las Canteras). Large microplastics (1–5 mm), mesoplastics (5–25 mm) and tar pollution were assessed twice a month for a year. There was great spatial and temporal variability in the Canary Island coastal pollution. Seasonal patterns differed at each location, marine debris concentration depended mainly of local-scale wind and wave conditions. The most polluted beach was Lambra, a remote beach infrequently visited. The types of debris found were mainly preproduction resin pellets, plastic fragments and tar, evidencing that pollution was not of local origin, but it cames from the open sea. The levels of pollution were similar to those of highly industrialized and contaminated regions. This study corroborates that the Canary Islands are an area of accumulation of microplastics and tar rafted from the North Atlantic Ocean by the southward flowing Canary Current.

A. Herrera, M. Asensio, I. Martínez, A. Santana, T. Packard, M. Gómez, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 6 November 2017, In Press

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A simple method to quantify PC and PET microplastics in the environmental samples by LC-MS/MS

Occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in the environments have been frequently reported. However, studies on the quantification methods for MPs are still needed. Plastics are polymers of different degrees of polymerization. In this study, alkali assisted thermal hydrolysis was applied to depolymerize two plastics containing ester groups, polycarbonate (PC) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), in pentanol or butanol system. By determining the concentrations of the depolymerized building block compounds, i.e. bisphenol A (BPA) and para-phthalic acid (PTA), the amounts of PC and PET MPs in the environmental samples were quantified. Recoveries of 87.2-97.1% were obtained for the PC and PET plastics particles spiked in the landfill sludge. The method was successfully applied to determine the occurrence of PC and PET MPs in the samples of sludge, marine sediments, indoor dust, digestive residues in mussel and clam, as well as in sea salt and rock salt. High concentrations of 246 and 430 mg/kg were determined for PC and PET type MP in an indoor dust, respectively. In addition, 63.7 mg/kg of PC and 127 mg/kg of PET were detected in the digestive residues of a clam.

Lei Wang, Junjie Zhang, Shaogang Hou, and Hongwen Sun, Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., Just Accepted Manuscript, November 2, 2017

Impact of microplastic beads and fibers on waterflea (Ceriodaphnia dubia) survival, growth, and reproduction: implications of single and mixture exposures

There is limited knowledge regarding the adverse effects of wastewater-derived microplastics, particularly fibers, on aquatic biota. In this study, we examined the acute (48 h) and chronic (8 d) effects of microplastic polyester fibers and polyethylene (PE) beads on freshwater zooplankton Ceriodaphnia dubia. We also assessed the acute response of C. dubia to a binary mixture of microplastic beads and fibers for the first time. Acute exposure to fibers and PE beads both showed a dose-dependent effect on survival. An equitoxic binary mixture of beads and fibers resulted in a toxic unit of 1.85 indicating less than additive effects. Chronic exposure to lower concentrations did not significantly affect survival of C. dubia, but a dose-dependent effect on growth and reproduction was observed. Fibers showed greater adverse effects than PE beads. While ingestion of fibers was not observed, scanning electron microscopy showed carapace and antenna deformities after exposure to fibers, with no deformities observed after exposure to PE beads. While much of the current research has focused on microplastic beads, our study shows that microplastic fibers pose a greater risk to C. dubia, with reduced reproductive output observed at concentrations within an order of magnitude of reported environmental levels.

Shima Ziajahromi, Anupama Kumar, Peta A. Neale, and Frederic D. L. Leusch, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, October 23, 2017

Are we underestimating microplastic contamination in aquatic environments?

Plastic debris, specifically microplastic in the aquatic environment, is an escalating environmental crisis. Efforts at national scales to reduce or ban microplastics in personal care products are starting to pay off, but this will not affect those materials already in the environment or those that result from unregulated products and materials. To better inform future microplastic research and mitigation efforts this study (1) evaluates methods currently used to quantify microplastics in the environment and (2) characterizes the concentration and size distribution of microplastics in a variety of products. In this study, 50 published aquatic surveys were reviewed and they demonstrated that most (~80%) only account for plastics ≥ 300 μm in diameter. In addition, we surveyed 770 personal care products to determine the occurrence, concentration and size distribution of polyethylene microbeads. Particle concentrations ranged from 1.9 to 71.9 mg g−1 of product or 1649 to 31,266 particles g−1 of product. The large majority ( > 95%) of particles in products surveyed were less than the 300 μm minimum diameter, indicating that previous environmental surveys could be underestimating microplastic contamination. To account for smaller particles as well as microfibers from synthetic textiles, we strongly recommend that future surveys consider methods that materials < 300 μm in diameter.

Jeremy L. Conkle, Christian D. Báez Del Valle, Jeffrey W. Turner, Environmental Management, pp 1–8,

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Spatial variability in the concentrations of metals in beached microplastics

Heavy metals and microplastics have been considered as threats to the marine environment and the interactions between these two pollutants are poorly understood. This study investigates the interactions between metals adsorbed in pellets collected randomly from 19 beaches along the coast of São Paulo State in southeastern Brazil, comparing these levels with those in virgin pellets. The samples were analyzed for Al, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Sn, Ti and Zn by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). The polymers were solubilized via acid digestion. The highest levels occurred with Fe (227.78 mg kg− 1 – Itaguaré) and Al (45.27 mg kg− 1 – Guaraú) in the same areas, which are closer to the Port of Santos. The metal adsorption on pellets collected is greater than that on virgin pellets. In this context, pellets can be considered to be a carrier for the transport of metals in the environment, even in small quantities.

M.C. Vedolin, C.Y.S. Teophilo, A. Turra, R.C.L. Figueira, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 13 October 2017, In Press

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