Acute water quality criteria for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, plastic additives, and 4-Nonylphenol in seawater

Probabilistic environmental quality criteria for Naphthalene (Nap), Phenanthrene (Phe), Fluoranthene (Flu), Pyrene (Pyr), Triclosan (TCS), Tributyltin (TBT), Chlorpyrifos (CPY), Diuron (DUR), γ-Hexaclorocyclohexane (γ-HCH), Bisphenol A (BPA) and 4-Nonylphenol (4-NP) were derived from acute toxicity data using saltwater species representative of marine ecosystems, including algae, mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms and chordates. Preferably, data concerns sublethal endpoints and early life stages from bioassays conducted in our laboratory, but the data set was completed with a broad literature survey. The Water Quality Criteria (WQC) obtained for TBT (7.1·10−3 μg L−1) and CPY (6.6· 10−3 μg L−1) were orders of magnitude lower than those obtained for PAHs (ranging from 3.75 to 45.2 μg L−1), BPA (27.7 μg L−1), TCS (8.66 μg L−1) and 4-NP (1.52 μg L−1). Critical values for DUR and HCH were 0.1 and 0.057 μg L−1 respectively. Within this context, non-selective toxicants could be quantitatively defined as those showing a maximum variability in toxicity thresholds (TT) of 3 orders of magnitude across the whole range of marine diversity, and a cumulative distribution of the TT fitting to a single log-logistic curve, while for selective toxicants variability was consistently found to span 5 orders of magnitude and the TT distribution showed a bimodal pattern. For the latter, protective WQC must be derived taking into account the SSD of the sensitive taxa only.

I. Durán, R. Beiras, Environmental Pollution, Volume 224, May 2017, Pages 384–391

The article

Microplastics as contaminants in commercially important seafood species

The ingestion of microplastic fragments, spheres, and fibers by marine mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, including a number of commercially important species, appears to be a widespread and pervasive phenomenon. Evidence is also growing for direct impacts of microplastic ingestion on physiology, reproductive success and survival of exposed marine organisms, and transfer through food webs, although the ecological implications are not yet known. Concerns also remain over the capacity for microplastics to act as vectors for harmful chemical pollutants, including plastic additives and persistent organic pollutants, although their contribution must be evaluated alongside other known sources. The potential for humans, as top predators, to consume microplastics as contaminants in seafood is very real, and its implications for health need to be considered. An urgent need also exists to extend the geographical scope of studies of microplastic contamination in seafood species to currently underrepresented areas, and to finalize and adopt standardized methods and quality-assurance protocols for the isolation, identification, and quantification of microplastic contaminants from biological tissues. Such developments would enable more robust investigation of spatial and temporal trends, thereby contributing further evidence as a sound basis for regulatory controls. Despite the existence of considerable uncertainties and unknowns, there is already a compelling case for urgent actions to identify, control, and, where possible, eliminate key sources of both primary and secondary microplastics before they reach the marine environment.

D. Santillo, K. Miller, P. Johnston, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Number 3, pp. 516–521, May 2017

The article

Assessment of microplastic-sorbed contaminant bioavailability through analysis of biomarker gene expression in larval zebrafish

Microplastics (MPs) are prevalent in marine ecosystems. Because toxicants (termed here “co-contaminants”) can sorb to MPs, there is potential for MPs to alter co-contaminant bioavailability. Our objective was to demonstrate sorption of two co-contaminants with different physicochemistries [phenanthrene (Phe), log10Kow = 4.57; and 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), log10Kow = 3.67] to MPs; and assess whether co-contaminant bioavailability was increased after MP settlement. Bioavailability was indicated by gene expression in larval zebrafish. Both Phe and EE2 sorbed to MPs, which reduced bioavailability by a maximum of 33% and 48% respectively. Sorption occurred, but was not consistent with predictions based on co-contaminant physicochemistry (Phe having higher log10Kow was expected to have higher sorption). Contaminated MPs settled to the bottom of the exposures did not lead to increased bioavailability of Phe or EE2. Phe was 48% more bioavailable than predicted by a linear sorption model, organism-based measurements therefore contribute unique insight into MP co-contaminant bioavailability.

Victoria A. Sleight, Adil Bakir, Richard C. Thompson, Theodore B. Henry, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 291–297

The article

Occurrence of halogenated flame retardants in commercial seafood species available in European markets

PBDEs (congeners 28, 47, 99, 100, 153, 154, 183, 209), HBCD (α, β, γ), emerging brominated flame retardants (PBEB, HBB and DBDPE), dechloranes (Dec 602, 603, 604, syn- and anti-DP), TBBPA, 2,4,6-TBP and MeO-PBDEs (8 congeners) were analysed in commercial seafood samples from European countries. Levels were similar to literature and above the environmental quality standards (EQS) limit of the Directive 2013/39/EU for PBDEs. Contaminants were found in 90.5% of the seafood samples at n. d.-356 ng/g lw (n. d.-41.1 ng/g ww). DBDPE was not detected and 2,4,6-TBP was detected only in mussels, but at levels comparable to those of PBDEs. Mussel and seabream were the most contaminated species and the Mediterranean Sea (FAO Fishing Area 37) was the most contaminated location. The risk assessment revealed that there was no health risk related to the exposure to brominated flame retardants via seafood consumption. However, a refined risk assessment for BDE-99 is of interest in the future. Moreover, the cooking process concentrated PBDEs and HBB.

Òscar Aznar-Alemany, Laura Trabalón, Silke Jacobs and al., Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 104, June 2017, Pages 35–47

The article

Synthetic fibers as microplastics in the marine environment: A review from textile perspective with a focus on domestic washings

The ubiquity of plastic materials in the environment has been, for long, a matter of discussion. Smaller particles, named microplastics (< 5 mm), gained attention more recently and are now the focus of many studies, especially for their particularities regarding sources, characteristics and effects (e.g., surface-area-to-volume ratio which can increase their potential to transport toxic substances). Fibers from textile materials are a subgroup of microplastics and can be originated from domestic washings, as machine filters and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not specifically designed to retain them. Once in the environment, fibers can reach concentrations up to thousands of particles per cubic meter, being available to be ingested by a broad range of species. In this scenario, this review adds and details the textile perspective to the microplastics exploring nomenclature, characteristics and factors influencing emission, but also evidencing gaps in knowledge needed to overcome this issue. Preliminarily, general information about marine litter and plastics, followed by specific aspects regarding textile fibers as microplastics, were introduced. Then fiber sources to microplastic pollution were discussed, mainly focusing on domestic washings that pass through WWTPs. Studies that reveal domestic washing as microplastic sources are scarce and there is a considerable lack of standardization in methods as well as incorporation of textile aspects in experimental design. Knowledge gaps include laundry parameters (e.g., water temperature, use of chemicals) and textile articles characteristics (e.g., yarn type, fabric structure) orchestrated by consumers’ choice. The lack of information on the coverage and efficiency of sewage treatment systems to remove textile fibers also prevent a global understanding of such sources. The search of alternatives and applicable solutions should come from an integrated, synergic and global perspective, of both environmental and textile area, which still need to be fostered.

Flavia Salvador Cesa, Alexander Turra, Julia Baruque-Ramos, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 598, 15 November 2017, Pages 1116–1129

The article

Microplastics are not important for the cycling and bioaccumulation of organic pollutants in the oceans—but should microplastics be considered POPs themselves?

The role of microplastic particles in the cycling and bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is discussed. Five common concepts, sometimes misconceptions, about the role of microplastics are reviewed. While there is ample evidence that microplastics accumulate high concentrations of POPs, this does not result in microplastics being important for the global dispersion of POPs. Similarly, there is scant evidence that microplastics are an important transfer vector of POPs into animals, but possibly for plastic additives (flame retardants). Last, listing microplastics as POPs could help reduce their environmental impact.

R. Lohmann, Integrated Env. Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages 460–465

The article

Cadmium, lead and bromine in beached microplastics

Samples of microplastic (n = 924) from two beaches in south west England have been analysed by field-portable-x-ray fluorescence (FP-XRF) spectrometry, configured in a low-density mode and with a small-spot facility, for the heavy metals, Cd and Pb, and the halogen, Br. Primary plastics in the form of pre-production pellets were the principal type of microplastic (>70%) on both beaches, with secondary, irregularly-shaped fragments representing the remainder of samples. Cadmium and Pb were detected in 6.9% and 7.5% of all microplastics, respectively, with concentrations of either metal that exceeded 103 μg g−1 usually encountered in red and yellow pellets or fragments. Respective correlations of Cd and Pb with Se and Cr were attributed to the presence of the coloured, inorganic pigments, cadmium sulphoselenide and lead chromate. Bromine, detected in 10.4% of microplastics and up to concentrations of about 13,000 μg g−1, was mainly encountered in neutrally-coloured pellets. Its strong correlation with Sb, whose oxides are effective fire suppressant synergists, suggests the presence of a variety of brominated flame retardants arising from the recycling of plastics originally used in casings for heat-generating electrical equipment. The maximum bioaccessible concentrations of Cd and Pb, evaluated using a physiological extraction based on the chemical characteristics of the proventriculus-gizzard of the northern fulmar, were about 50 μg g−1 and 8 μg g−1, respectively. These concentrations exceed those estimated for the diet of local seabirds by factors of about 50 and 4, respectively.

Angelo Massos, Andrew Turner, Environmental Pollution, Volume 227, August 2017, Pages 139–145

The article