Occurrence of phthalate acid esters (PAEs) in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone River

Phthalate acid esters (PAEs) which are mainly anthropogenic molecules with endocrine disrupting effects in animals and humans, have been detected in terrestrial and aquatic environments. However, little is known about their distribution in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly because of analytical difficulties and the high possibility of ambient sample contamination. Here, we report the optimization of an existing protocol for the determination of PAEs in seawater and freshwater samples, as well as the first estimation of the source and distribution of phthalates acid esters (PAEs) in coastal waters from the NW Mediterranean Sea. By passing 1 L of sample through glass cartridges packed with 200 mg of Oasis HLB and eluted with 6 mL of ethyl acetate, the recoveries for DMP, DEP, DPP, DiBP, DnBP, BzBP, DEHP and DnOP were 101, 98, 115, 110, 99, 98, 103 and 95%, respectively, with acceptable blank values (below 0.4-4.0% of the masses measured in different seawater samples). By using this method, we detected PAEs in the Marseilles coastal area, offshore (2000 m depth) and in the Rhone River with total concentrations ranging from 75.3 ng/L offshore in surface water to 1207.1 ng/L a few meters above the bottom of the Marseilles Bay. High concentrations were also observed in deep waters offshore (310.2 ng/L) as well as in the Rhone River (615.1 ng/L). These results suggest that Marseilles urban area, Rhone River and sediment are potential sources of PAEs in the areas studied.

Andrea Paluselli, Yann Aminot, François Galgani, Sopheak Net, Richard Sempéré, Progress in Oceanography, Available online 21 June 2017, In Press

The article

Ingestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna – Quantification of body burdens and assessment of feeding rates and reproduction

Evidence is increasing that micro- and nanoplastic particles can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms. Exposure studies have so far mainly been qualitative since quantitative measurements of particle ingestion are analytically challenging. The aim of this study was therefore to use a quantitative approach for determining ingestion and egestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna and to analyze the influence of particle size, exposure duration and the presence of food. One week old animals were exposed to 2 μm and 100 nm fluorescent polystyrene beads (1 mg/l) for 24 h, followed by a 24 h egestion period in clean medium. During both phases body burdens of particles were determined by measuring the fluorescence intensity in dissolved tissues. Ingestion and egestion were investigated in the absence and presence of food (6.7·105 cells of Raphidocelis subcapitata per ml). Furthermore, feeding rates of daphnids in response to particle exposure were measured as well as effects on reproduction during a 21 days exposure (at 1 mg/l, 0.5 mg/l and 0.1 mg/l) to investigate potential impairments of physiology. Both particle sizes were readily ingested, but the ingested mass of particles was five times higher for the 2 μm particles than for the 100 nm particles. Complete egestion did not occur within 24 h but generally higher amounts of the 2 μm particles were egested. Animal body burdens of particles were strongly reduced in the presence of food. Daphnid feeding rates decreased by 21% in the presence of 100 nm particles, but no effect on reproduction was found despite high body burdens of particles at the end of 21 days exposure. The lower egestion and decreased feeding rates, caused by the 100 nm particles, could indicate that particles in the nanometer size range are potentially more hazardous to D. magna compared to larger particle sizes.

Sinja Rist, Anders Baun, Nanna B. Hartmann, Environmental Pollution, Volume 228, September 2017, Pages 398–407

Microplastics in gut contents of coastal freshwater fish from Río de la Plata estuary

The presence of microplastics (MPs) in gut contents of coastal freshwater fish of the Rio de la Plata estuary was studied. Samples were taken in six sites where 87 fish belonging to 11 species and four feeding habits were captured. Presence of MPs was verified in the 100% of fish. The fibres represented the 96% of MPs found. The number of MPs in gut contents was significantly higher close to sewage discharge. There was not found relationship between number of MPs and fish length, weight or feeding habit. The spatial differences in mean number of MPs in fish observed in this study, suggest that environmental availability of MPs could be of great importance to explain the differences found among sampling sites analysed. This work represents the first study about the interaction between MPs and aquatic organisms in this important estuarine ecosystem of South America.

Rocío S. Pazos, Tomás Maiztegui, Darío C. Colautti and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 17 June 2017, In Press

The article

Scope, Fate, Risks and Impacts of Microplastic Pollution in Irish Freshwater Systems

The worldwide production of plastics has increased considerably in the last 30 years (Plastics Europe, 2012). Microplastics are small (< 5 mm) fragments of plastic, which are of particular concern because of their bioavailability and their potential to accumulate organic contaminants in increasing quantities with decreasing size. When they enter aquatic systems, microplastics can be ingested by a range of organisms and accumulate through the food web, causing harm to humans and the environment. Plastic litter has become a priority for the G7 leaders who have acknowledged it as posing a “global challenge, directly affecting marine and coastal life and ecosystems and potentially human health” (G7 summit, 2015) and have passed an action plan on marine litter that includes a commitment to conduct further research. (…)

Anne Marie Mahon, Rick Officer, Róisín Nash and Ian O’Connor, EPA RESEARCH PROGRAMME 2014–2020, Published by the Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland, June 2017

The report

Micro- and Nanoplastic Pollution of Freshwater and Wastewater Treatment Systems

Plastic waste is a widespread and persistent global challenge with negative impacts on the environment, economy, human health and aesthetics. Plastic pollution has been a focus of environmental research over the past few decades, particularly in relation to macroplastics that are easily visible by the naked eye. More recently, smaller plastic waste at the micro- and nanoscale has become of increasing concern, resulting in extensive investment in research to advance knowledge on the sources, distribution, fate and impact of these materials in aquatic systems. However, owing to their small sizes and a lack of unified methods, adequate quantitative and qualitative assessment has been difficult. Furthermore, most of the microplastic surveys available to date have focussed in the marine environment while scarce knowledge exists of freshwater systems. Because the majority of marine debris originates on land, the role of wastewater treatment systems and natural fluvial vectors in delivering these emerging contaminants to the environment should be explored. Considering fundamental aspects pertaining to microplastic sources, distribution, mobility and degradation in these systems is crucial for developing effective control measures and strategies to mitigate the discharge of these particles to the sea.

Reina M. Blair, Susan Waldron, Vernon Phoenix, Caroline Gauchotte-Lindsay, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 07 June 2017, pp 1–7

The article

Microplastics in the sediments of a UK urban lake

While studies on microplastics in the marine environment show their wide-distribution, persistence and contamination of biota, the freshwater environment remains comparatively neglected. Where studies on freshwaters have been undertaken these have been on riverine systems or very large lakes. We present data on the distribution of microplastic particles in the sediments of Edgbaston Pool, a shallow eutrophic lake in central Birmingham, UK. These data provide, to our knowledge, the first assessment of microplastic concentrations in the sediments of either a small or an urban lake and the first for any lake in the UK. Maximum concentrations reached 25–30 particles per 100 g dried sediment (equivalent to low hundreds kg−1) and hence are comparable with reported river sediment studies. Fibres and films were the most common types of microplastic observed. Spatial distributions appear to be due to similar factors to other lake studies (i.e. location of inflow; prevailing wind directions; propensity for biofouling; distribution of macroplastic debris) and add to the growing burden of evidence for microplastic ubiquity in all environments.

Rebecca Vaughan, Simon D. Turner, Neil L. Rose, Environmental Pollution, Volume 229, October 2017, Pages 10–18

The article

Widespread microplastic ingestion by fish assemblages in tropical estuaries subjected to anthropogenic pressures

Our aim was to quantify microplastic ingestion by fish assemblages in two tropical Brazilian estuaries and to evaluate whether biological and ecological factors influence the ingestion of microplastics by fish species. Of 2233 fish from both estuaries (from 69 species) examined in this study, 9% of the individuals (24 species) had microplastics in their gut contents. Microplastic ingestion occurred irrespective of fish size and functional group. The diet of fish species was analyzed based on prey items identified in the fish’s full stomach contents and five feeding guilds were defined. Microplastics were common throughout all feeding guilds. Low (average ingestion values 1.06 ± 0.30 items/total fish) but widespread occurrence among estuaries also indicates proliferation of microplastic pollution. Our findings highlight the need to focus on assemblage level studies to understand the real magnitude of the problem and emphasize the urgency of mitigation measures directed at microplastic pollution in estuarine ecosystems.

A.L. Vendel, F. Bessa, V.E.N. Alves, A.L.A. Amorim, J. Patrício, A.R.T. Palma, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 117, Issues 1–2, 15 April 2017, Pages 448–455

The article