Plastic debris accumulates in the marine environment, fragmenting into microplastics (MP), causing concern about their potential toxic effects when ingested by marine organisms. The aim of this study was to verify whether 0.1 µm polystyrene beads are likely to trigger lethal and sub-lethal responses in marine planktonic crustaceans. MP build-up, mortality, swimming speed alteration and enzyme activity (cholinesterases, catalase) were investigated in the larval stages of Amphibalanus amphitrite barnacle and of Artemia franciscana brine shrimp exposed to a wide range of MP concentrations (from 0.001 to 10 mg L-1) for 24 and 48 h. The results show that MP were accumulated in crustaceans, without affecting mortality. Swimming activity was significantly altered in crustaceans exposed to high MP concentrations (> 1 mg L-1) after 48 h. Enzyme activities were significantly affected in all organisms exposed to all the above MP concentrations, indicating that neurotoxic effects and oxidative stress were induced after MP treatment. These findings provide new insight into sub-lethal MP effects on marine crustaceans.
Chiara Gambardella, Silvia Morgana, Sara Ferrando and al., Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Volume 145, November 2017, Pages 250-257