Field-Based Evidence for Microplastic in Marine Aggregates and Mussels: Implications for Trophic Transfer

Marine aggregates incorporate particles from the environment, including microplastic (MP). The characteristics of MP in aggregates and the role of aggregates in linking MP with marine organisms, however, are poorly understood. To address these issues, we collected aggregates and blue mussels, Mytulis edulis, at Avery Point, CT, and analyzed samples with microspectrometers. Results indicate that over 70% of aggregates sampled harbored MP (1290 ± 1510 particles/m3). Fifteen polymer types were identified, with polypropylene, polyester and synthetic-cellulose accounting for 44.7%, 21.2% and 10.6%, respectively, of the total MP count. Over 90% of MP in aggregates were ≤1000 μm, suggesting that aggregations are a sink for this size fraction. Although size, shape, and chemical type of MP captured by mussels were representative of those found in aggregates, differences in the sizes of MP in pseudofeces, feces and digestive gland/gut were found, suggesting size-dependent particle ingestion. Over 40% of the MP particles were either rejected in pseudofeces or egested in feces. Our results are the first to identify a connection between field-collected marine aggregates and bivalves, and indicate that aggregates may play an important role in removing MP from the ocean surface and facilitating their transfer to marine food webs.

Shiye Zhao, J. Evan Ward, Meghan Danley, and Tracy J. Mincer, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, August 29, 2018

The article


Effect of Microplastic Amendment to Food on Diet Assimilation Efficiencies of PCBs by Fish

Diet assimilation efficiencies (AEs) of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) absorbed to microplastics and food were determined in goldfish (Carassius auratus). Microplastics were spiked with 14 environmentally rare PCBs and incorporated into fish pellets previously spiked with a technical PCB mixture (Aroclor 1254). Five diet treatments were created having microplastic contents of 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25% and fed to fish within 24 h of the diet creation. Fish from each treatment were fed a microplastic amended food pellet and PCB AEs were determined by mass balance. Microplastic-associated PCBs had lower AEs (geomean 13.36%) compared to food matrix-associated PCBs (geomean 51.64%). There were interactions between PCB AEs and the microplastic content of the diet. PCBs affiliated with microplastics became more bioavailable with increasing microplastic content of food while food matrix-associated PCB bioavailability declined when microplastic contents exceeded 5%. Despite controlling for microplastic-food contact time, there was some evidence for redistribution of lower KOW food matrix-associated PCBs onto microplastics causing a decrease in their AE relative to nonplastic and low plastic containing diets. The low bioavailability of microplastic-associated PCBs observed in the present study provides further support to indicate that microplastics are unlikely to increase POPs bioaccumulation by fish in aquatic systems.

Stefan Grigorakis and Ken G. Drouillard, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, August 16, 2018

The article

Nanoplastic Ingestion Enhances Toxicity of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Monogonont Rotifer Brachionus koreanus via Multixenobiotic Resistance (MXR) Disruption

Among the various materials found inside microplastic pollution, nanosized microplastics are of particular concern due to difficulties in quantification and detection; moreover, they are predicted to be abundant in aquatic environments with stronger toxicity than microsized microplastics. Here, we demonstrated a stronger accumulation of nanosized microbeads in the marine rotifer Brachionus koreanus compared to microsized ones, which was associated with oxidative stress-induced damages on lipid membranes. In addition, multixenobiotic resistance conferred by P-glycoproteins and multidrug resistance proteins, as a first line of membrane defense, was inhibited by nanoplastic pre-exposure, leading to enhanced toxicity of 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether and triclosan in B. koreanus. Our study provides a molecular mechanistic insight into the toxicity of nanosized microplastics toward aquatic invertebrates and further implies the significance of synergetic effects of microplastics with other environmental persistent organic pollutants.

Chang-Bum Jeong, Hye-Min Kang, Young Hwan Lee and al., Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, September 7, 2018

The article

Microplastics in different tissues of fish and prawn from the Musa Estuary, Persian Gulf

Commercially-important species of fish and a crustacean from four sites in the Musa estuary and a site in the Persian Gulf have been analysed for the presence and location of microplastics (MPs). A total of 828 MPs were detected in the guts (gastrointestinal tracts), skin, muscle, gills and liver of demersal and pelagic fish (Platycephalus indicus, Saurida tumbil, Sillago sihama, Cynoglossus abbreviatus) from all five sites and in the exoskeleton and muscle of the tiger prawn, Penaeus semisulcatus, from three sites. On an individual basis, MPs were most abundant in P. indicus (mean = 21.8) and least frequently encountered in P. semisulcatus (mean = 7.8), but when normalized on a mass basis, MPs ranged from 0.16 g-1 for C. abbreviatus to 1.5 g-1 for P. semisulcatus. Microscopic analyses (polarized light, fluorescence, SEM/EDS) revealed that MPs were mainly fibrous fragments (with a few angular fragments) of various colour and size (<100 μm to > 1000 μm) and with strong C and O signatures. Additional particles detected that were distinctly different in colour, morphology, brittleness and elemental composition (part-metallic, and containing Cu) were suspected of being fragments of antifouling paint. The means of entry of MPs into tissues not involved in digestion are unclear but could be related to translocation or adherence. Regardless of the mode of accumulation, the presence of MPs in heavily fished species of fish and crustacean raises concerns about the potential transfer of synthetic materials into humans.

Sajjad Abbasi, Naghmeh Soltani, Behnam Keshavarzi and al., Chemosphere, Volume 205, August 2018, Pages 80-87

The article

Single contaminant and combined exposures of polyethylene microplastics and fluoranthene: accumulation and oxidative stress response in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis

The microplastic “vector effect” has received increasing attention. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of polyethylene microplastic beads (PE MP) on accumulation and associated oxidative stress responses attributed to fluoranthene (Flu) in blue mussels, Mytilus edulis. Blue mussels were exposed for 96 h to four treatment groups: Flu-only, MP-only, Flu and MP coexposure, and Flu-incubated MP. Treatments were conducted at a low and high concentration (50 μg/L and 100  Flu μg/L and 100, and 1000 MP/mL). Results demonstrated that in both the gill and digestive gland, coexposure did not markedly affect Flu uptake, but this treatment significantly decreased tissue Flu concentrations. Antioxidant responses including activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidases (GPx), and levels of total glutathione (GSH) in both gills and digestive glands were significantly altered suggesting a perturbation of redox state induced by the exposure conditions. Although individual biomarkers varied, the biomarker profile enabled certain generalizations to be made. Antioxidant responses occurred more likely in gill tissue than in digestive gland. Individual contaminant exposures to Flu or MP led to varying responses, but coexposures and incubated exposures did not result in additive or synergistic effects. Exposure concentrations (i.e., low or high treatments) were not a consistent a predictor of response; and the internal Flu dose did not consistently predict outcome of various biomarkers. Importantly, MP-only exposure appeared to be capable of eliciting direct effects on the oxidative stress system as demonstrated by the activities of CAT and GPx. These findings warrant further investigation.

Gabriele Magara, Antonia Concetta Elia, Kristian Syberg & Farhan R. Khan, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 81 (16), Pages 761-773, 2018

The article

Small-sized microplastics and pigmented particles in bottled mineral water


• 32 samples of mineral water were investigated for microparticles (down to 1 μm size).

• Water from all bottle types was contaminated with microplastics.

• Water from reusable, paper labelled bottles contained pigmented particles.

• About 90% of microplastics/pigmented particles were smaller than 5 μm.

• Potential contamination sources like the packaging material are discussed.

Barbara E. Oßmann, George Sarau, Heinrich Holtmannspötter and al., Water Research, Volume 141, 15 September 2018, Pages 307-316

The article

Distribution of Microplastics and Nanoplastics in Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Impacts on Aquatic Organisms, with Emphasis on Microalgae

Plastics, with their many useful physical and chemical properties, are widely used in various industries and activities of daily living. Yet, the insidious effects of plastics, particularly long-term effects on aquatic organisms, are not properly understood. Plastics have been shown to degrade to micro- and nanosize particles known as microplastics and nanoplastics, respectively. These minute particles have been shown to cause various adverse effects on aquatic organisms, ranging from growth inhibition, developmental delay and altered feeding behaviour in aquatic animals to decrease of photosynthetic efficiency and induction of oxidative stress in microalgae. This review paper covers the distribution of microplastics and nanoplastics in aquatic ecosystems, focusing on their effects on microalgae as well as co-toxicity of microplastics and nanoplastics with other pollutants. Besides that, this review paper also discusses future research directions which could be taken to gain a better understanding of the impacts of microplastics and nanoplastics on aquatic ecosystems.

Jun-Kit Wan, Wan-Loy Chu, Yih-Yih Kok, Choy-Sin Lee, Chapter, Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series, Springer

The chapter