Dirty laundry : Are your clothes polluting the ocean?

In an indoor “Manchester-drizzle-simulating” rain room at the University of Leeds, and in a laundry lab in Plymouth, research is revealing the unexpected environmental cost of the very clothes on our backs. (…)

And in a recent lab study, they found that polyester and acrylic clothing shed thousands of plastic fibres each time it was washed- sending another source of plastic pollution down the drain and, eventually, into the ocean. (…) (bbc.com, 6/07/2017)

The news

Microplastics are polluting Lake Winnebago’s fish

A new study is raising concerns about the safety of eating fish from Lake Winnebago.

The research reveals tiny pieces of plastic are skirting the wastewater treatment process to end up in the lake, where they can soak up toxins and are likely being consumed by fish.

Experts say there’s a potential danger that those toxins could be passed on to people who consume fish from the lake.

“It’s definitely a concern,” said Kelly Reyer, outreach coordinator for the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance. “It can go through the food chain and potentially harm the ecosystem as well as public health because of people consuming the fish.”

Plastic microbeads had previously been found in the Great Lakes, prompting state legislation to phase out products that contain them, but experts didn’t know whether they were in Lake Winnebago or other inland waters. (…) (usatoday.com, 10/07/2017)

The news

Microplastic pollution in deposited urban dust, Tehran metropolis, Iran

Environmental pollutants such as microplastics have become a major concern over the last few decades. We investigated the presence, characteristics, and potential health risks of microplastic dust ingestion. The plastic load of 88 to 605 microplastics per 30 g dry dust with a dominance of black and yellow granule microplastics ranging in size from 250 to 500 μm was determined in 10 street dust samples using a binocular microscope. Fluorescence microscopy was found to be ineffective for detecting and counting plastic debris. Scanning electron microscopy, however, was useful for accurate detection of microplastic particles of different sizes, colors, and shapes (e.g., fiber, spherule, hexagonal, irregular polyhedron). Trace amounts of Al, Na, Ca, Mg, and Si, detected using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, revealed additives of plastic polymers or adsorbed debris on microplastic surfaces. As a first step to estimate the adverse health effects of microplastics in street dust, the frequency of microplastic ingestion per day/year via ingestion of street dust was calculated. Considering exposure during outdoor activities and workspaces with high abundant microplastics as acute exposure, a mean of 3223 and 1063 microplastic particles per year is ingested by children and adults, respectively. Consequently, street dust is a potentially important source of microplastic contamination in the urban environment and control measures are required.

Dehghani, S., Moore, F. & Akhbarizadeh, R., Environ Sci Pollut Res (2017)

The article

Indicators of Marine Pollution in the North Pacific Ocean

The complex nature of ocean pollution underscores the utility in identifying and characterizing a limited number of “indicators” that enables scientists and managers to track trends over space and time. This paper introduces a special issue on indicators of marine pollution in the North Pacific Ocean and builds on a scientific session that was held at the North Pacific Marine Science Organization. The special issue highlights studies using a variety of indicators to provide insight into the identification of legacy and emerging contaminants, the ranking of priority pollutants from various sources, and the effects of contaminants on ecosystem health in the North Pacific Ocean. Examples include the use of mussels to illustrate spatial and temporal trends of a number of contaminants following the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the use of molecular marker (linear alkylbenzenes, hopanes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) profiles to identify pollution sources, and the use of plastic resin pellets to illustrate spatial trends of petroleum pollution around the world. Stable isotopes were used to strengthen the utility of the Glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens) as an indicator of marine pollution. Examples also demonstrate the development and application of biomarker approaches, including gene transcripts, oxidative stress, estradiol, hatchability, and respiration and swimming behavior abnormalities, as a function of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, sulfur-diesel, Pinghu crude oil, galaxolide and antifouling biocides. We provide a brief review of indicators of marine pollution, identify research gaps, and summarize key findings from the articles published within the issue. This special issue represents the first compilation of research pertaining to marine pollution indicators in the North Pacific Ocean and provides guidance to inform mitigation and monitoring efforts of contaminants in the region.

Tanya M. Brown, Hideshige Takada, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, pp 1–5, 14 July 2017

The article

The occurrence of microplastic contamination in littoral sediments of the Persian Gulf, Iran

Microplastics (MPs; <5 mm) in aquatic environments are an emerging contaminant of concern due to their possible ecological and biological consequences. This study addresses that MP quantification and morphology to assess the abundance, distribution, and polymer types in littoral surface sediments of the Persian Gulf were performed. A two-step method, with precautions taken to avoid possible airborne contamination, was applied to extract MPs from sediments collected at five sites during low tide. MPs were found in 80% of the samples. Across all sites, fiber particles were the most dominate shape (88%), followed by films (11.2%) and fragments (0.8%). There were significant differences in MP particle concentration between sampling sites (p value <0.05). The sediments with the highest numbers of MPs were from sites in the vicinity of highly populated centers and municipal effluent discharges. FTIR analysis showed that polyethylene (PE), nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) were the most abundant polymer types. More than half of the observed MPs (56%) were in the size category of 1–4.7 mm length, with the remaining particles (44%) being in the size range of 10 μm to <1 mm. Compared to literature data from other regions, intertidal sediments in the Persian Gulf cannot be characterized as a hot spot for MP pollution. The present study could, however, provide useful background information for further investigations and management policies to understand the sources, transport, and potential effects on marine life in the Persian Gulf.

Abolfazl Naji, Zinat Esmaili, Sherri A. Mason, A. Dick Vethaak, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, pp 1–10, 14 July 2017

The article

Foraging preferences influence microplastic ingestion by six marine fish species from the Texas Gulf Coast

This study evaluated the influence of foraging preferences on microplastic ingestion by six marine fish species from the Texas Gulf Coast. A total of 1381 fish were analyzed and 42.4% contained ingested microplastic, inclusive of fiber (86.4%), microbead (12.9% %), and fragment (< 1.0%) forms. Despite a substantial overlap in diet, ordination of ingested prey items clustered samples into distinctive species groupings, reflective of the foraging gradient among species. Orthopristis chrysoptera displayed the lowest overall frequency of microplastic ingestion and the most distinctive ordination grouping, indicating their selective invertebrate foraging preferences. Cluster analysis of O. chrysoptera most closely classified microplastic with the ingestion of benthic invertebrates, whereas the ingestion of microplastic by all other species most closely classified with the ingestion of vegetation and shrimp. O. chrysoptera, as selective invertebrate foragers, are less likely to ingest microplastics than species exhibiting generalist foraging preferences and methods of prey capture.

Colleen A. Peters, Peyton A. Thomas, Kaitlyn B. Rieper, Susan P. Bratton, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 11 July 2017, In Press

The article

Fouling assemblage of benthic plastic debris collected from Mersin Bay, NE Levantine coast of Turkey

The Mediterranean is an ecosystem that faces more and more microplastic pollution every day. This causes the whole of the Mediterranean to face the negative effects of plastic pollution. This study examines the state of plastic debris and fouling organisms found on it in one of the areas most affected by plastic pollution, Mersin Bay. As a result, a total of 3.88 kg plastic (mean = 0,97 kg; n = 120; 2670 item/km2; 86,3 kg/km2) was collected and based on the ATR-FTIR analysis, it was determined that this total contained 9 types of plastics. 17 different fouling species belonging to 6 phylum (Annelida, Arthropoda, Bryozoa, Chordata, Cnidaria, Mollusca) 7 class and 11 order were discovered on plastics. Spirobranchus triqueter, Hydroides sp. and Neopycnodonte cochlear were the most abundant species. In the end, the example of Mersin Bay shows that plastic debris as a substrate can contain a very high diversity of life just like natural substrates.

Sedat Gündoğdu, Cem Çevik, Serkan Karaca, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 14 July 2017, In Press

The article