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

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

Uptake and effects of microplastic textile fibers on freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna

Microplastic fibers (MP) from textile weathering and washing are increasingly being recognized as environmental pollutants. The majority of studies on the bioavailability and effects of microplastic focused on small polystyrene spherical plastic particles, while less data are available for fibers and for other materials besides polystyrene. We investigated the ingestion and effects of ground polyethylene terephthalate (PET) textile microfibers (length range: 62–1400 μm, width 31–528 μm, thickness 1–21.5 μm) on the freshwater zooplankton crustacean Daphnia magna after a 48 h exposure and subsequent 24 h of recovery in MP free medium and algae. The majority of ingested fibers by D. magna were around 300 μm, but also some very large twisted MP fibers around 1400 μm were found inside the gut. Exposure to these fibers results in increased mortality of daphnids after 48 h only in the case where daphnids were not pre-fed with algae prior to experiment, but no effect was found when daphnids were fed before the experiments. Regardless of the feeding regime, daphnids were not able to recover from MP exposure after additional 24 h incubation period in a MP free medium with algae. The uptake and effects of PET textile MP on D. magna are presented here for the first time.

Anita Jemec, Petra Horvat, Urban Kunej, Marjan Bele, Andrej Kržan, Environmental Pollution, Volume 219, December 2016, Pages 201–209

The article

Occurrence of plastic debris in the stomach of the invasive crab Eriocheir sinensis

The Chinese mitten crab is known as a pest causing damage to fishing gears and fish. On the other hand, this highly invasive species is considered a delicacy by Asian migrants and therefore commercially fished and sold in many countries. The ingestion of plastic by the Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis from the Baltic coastal waters (Poland) and the Tagus Estuary (Portugal) was studied based on stomach content analysis. As many as 13% of the 302 analysed males and females (38.07–89.07 mm carapace width) from both regions, contained microplastic in the form of strands and balls. Most of them were transparent. Ingested plastic particles were identified as fragments of fishing gears. Contamination with plastic may have a negative impact on this species as well as on higher trophic levels feeding on crabs.

Dagmara Wójcik-Fudalewska, Monika Normant-Saremba, Pedro Anastácio, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 113, Issues 1–2, 15 December 2016, Pages 306–311

The article

Effect of chronic exposure to two components of Tritan (TM) copolyester on Daphnia magna, Moina macrocopa, and Oryzias latipes, and potential mechanisms of endocrine disruption using H295R cells

Tritan™ copolyester is a novel plastic form from Eastman Company utilizing three main monomers, 1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol (CHDM), dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), and 2,2,4,4-tetramethyl-1,3-cyclobutanediol. Despite Tritan™ has been widely applied for plastic bottles, the effects of long-term exposure to these compounds have seldom been investigated. We investigated chronic effects and endocrine disruption potential of CHDM and terephthalic acid (TPA), main mammalian metabolite formed from DMT, using crustacean Daphnia magna and Moina macrocopa, and freshwater fish (Oryzias latipes). The effects on sex hormone balance and the associated mechanisms were also investigated by use of H295R cells. In chronic toxicity test, D. magna showed significant decrease in reproduction (number of young per female) after exposure to 10 mg/L TPA. In early life stage exposure using O. latipes, significant decrease of juvenile survival and weight were observed in fish exposed to 10 mg/L and ≥1 mg/L CHDM, respectively. Expressions of vtg2 mRNA in fish exposed to CHDM and those of cyp19b, star, cyp17, and cyp19a mRNAs in fish exposed to TPA were significantly up-regulated. The results of H295R cell assay also showed that both chemicals at high concentrations could alter sex hormone production in steroidogenic pathway. The effective concentrations of the tested compounds were several orders of magnitude greater than the concentrations can be detected in ambient waters. Further in vivo and in vitro studies will be needed to investigate the effect of co-polymer on endocrine disruption.

Sol JangKyunghee Ji, Ecotoxicology, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 1906-1914, November 2015

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