Sea Water Contamination in the Vicinity of the Italian Minor Islands Caused by Microplastic Pollution

The abundance and distribution of microplastics (MP) were evaluated in six “clean” sites (Italian minor islands) and in two “polluted” areas (near the mouth of two major Italian rivers). Samples of MP, plankton and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were collected using a manta trawl (MA) and a plankton net (WP2), both lined with a 333 µm mesh net. MP have been confirmed to be ubiquitous since they were found at each site, showing an average density of 0.3 ± 0.04 items/m3 (values ranged from 0.641 to 0.119 ). When comparing the clean sites with the polluted ones, a significantly higher value of MP was found near the river mouths. The most common types of MP were synthetic filaments (50.24%), followed by fragments (30.39%), thin plastic films (16.98%) and spheres (2.39%). Infrared spectroscopy analysis highlighted that the most abundant polymers were polyethylene (PE-26%), polypropylene (PP-11%), polyethylene-terephthalate/polyester (PET/PEST-8%) and ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA-5%). Polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides were detected in all the samples with a high variability among sites and depths. This study adds to the existing information on the distribution of contaminants across the Mediterranean Sea, and is useful to policy makers who wish to implement effective measures to reduce MP pollution.

Giuseppe Andrea de Lucia, Alvise Vianello, Andrea Camedda and al., Water, 2018, 10(8), 1108

The article


A Comprehensive Analysis of Plastics and Microplastic Legislation Worldwide

Aquatic or land-based plastic pollution has raised serious concerns for ecosystems, and especially human and animal health worldwide. A variety of legislative instruments were developed to control, reduce, and manage the usage of plastics in day-to-day life to minimize the adverse outcomes brought by sending these plastic to landfill. Existing legislation heavily embraces levies, bans, and voluntary efforts through “reduce and reuse campaigns.” Thus, the present review highlights the pros and cons of the existing legislation and its implementation. It also assesses the need for the improvement of plastic legislation to better consider environmental and human health impacts. The paper proposes new efficient management strategies to aid in the development of plastic legislation which prevents increase of plastic pollution worldwide, the potential challenges that would arise from its implementation, and the mechanisms for overcoming these challenges. The paper proposes a conventional management strategy based on the current plastic management and legislation. It aims to improve the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of future plastic policies.

Chung-Sum Lam, Soundaram Ramanathan, Maddison Carbery, Kelsey Gray, Kanth Swaroop Vanka, Cristelle Maurin, Richard Bush, Thavamani Palanisami, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, , 229:345

The article

Marine microplastic: Preparation of relevant test materials for laboratory assessment of ecosystem impacts


Beached macroplastic litter was collected for impact assessment studies.

Cryogenic milling provided homogenous microplastic mixture.

Common inorganic additives used as colorants, fillers and stabilisers were detected.

GC-MS identified organic plasticisers, stabilisers, antioxidants and flame retardants.

Susanne Kühn, Albert van Oyen, Andy M. Booth and al., Chemosphere, Volume 213, December 2018, Pages 103-113

The article

Acute toxicity of organic pesticides to Daphnia magna is unchanged by co-exposure to polystyrene microplastics

Daphnia magna were exposed to two pesticides in the presence or absence of microplastics (300 000 particles ml−1 1 µm polystyrene spheres) and to microplastics alone. The pesticides were dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide with a low log Kow, and deltamethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide with a high log Kow. Daphnia were exposed to a nominal concentration range of 0.15, 0.31, 0.63, 1.25, 2.5, 5 mg l−1 dimethoate and 0.016, 0.08, 0.4, 2, 5 and 10 µg l−1 deltamethrin. Exposure to polystyrene microplastics alone showed no effects on Daphnia magna survival and mobility over a 72 h exposure. In the dimethoate exposures, mobility and survival were both affected from a concentration of 1.25 mg l−1, with effects were seen on mobility from 28 h and survival from 48 h, with greater effects seen with increasing concentration and exposure time. In deltamethrin exposures, survival was affected from a concentration of 0.4 µg l−1 and mobility from a concentration of 0.08 µg l−1. Effects of deltamethrin on mobility were seen from 5 h and on survival from 28 h, with greater effects on survival and mobility seen with increasing concentration and exposure time. Contrary to expectations, pesticide toxicity to Daphnia magna was not affected by the presence of microplastics, regardless of chemical binding affinity (log Kow). This therefore suggests that polystyrene microplastics are unlikely to act as a significant sink, nor as a vector for increased uptake of pesticides by aquatic organisms.

Alice A. Horton, Martina G. Vijver, Elma Lahive and al., Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Volume 166, 30 December 2018, Pages 26-34

The article

Microplastics found in human stools for the first time: Study

In a study presented at a prestigious global gastroenterology conference, there was a surprising revelation – small plastic pieces, also known as microplastics, were found in stool samples of participants, thereby suggesting there may be a significant amount of microplastic present in the human food chain.

Based on this study, the authors estimated that “more than 50% of the world population might have microplastics in their stools”. Samples from the eight subjects were sent to a laboratory in Vienna where they were analysed using a Fourier-transform infrared microspectrometer.

Researchers from the Environment Agency Austria and the Medical University of Vienna followed eight healthy volunteers from different parts of the world – Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom and Austria. The participants supposedly maintained a diary in which they logged in what food or drink they consumed for a week. The researchers then tested their stool for 10 different types of plastics. It was found that all of their stool samples were found to contain microplastic particles. On an average, 20 particles of microplastic were found in each 10 grams of excreta. (…) (, 24/10/2018)

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Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic

Ocean plastic can persist in sea surface waters, eventually accumulating in remote areas of the world’s oceans. Here we characterise and quantify a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Our model, calibrated with data from multi-vessel and aircraft surveys, predicted at least 79 (45–129) thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2; a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported. We explain this difference through the use of more robust methods to quantify larger debris. Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area. Plastic collected during our study has specific characteristics such as small surface-to-volume ratio, indicating that only certain types of debris have the capacity to persist and accumulate at the surface of the GPGP. Finally, our results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

L. Lebreton, B. Slat, F. Ferrari, and al., Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 4666 (2018)

The article

Instrumental analysis of microplastics-benefits and challenges

There is a high demand for easy, cheap, comparable, and robust methods for microplastic (MP) analysis, due to the ever-increasing public and scientific interest in (micro-) plastic pollution in the environment. Today, a multitude of methodologies for sampling, sample preparation, and analysis of MPs are in use. This feature article deals with the most prominent detection methods as well as with sampling strategies and sample preparation techniques. Special emphasis is on their benefits and challenges. Thus, spectroscopic methods, coupled with microscopy, require time-consuming sample preparation and extended measurement times, whereas thermo-analytical methods are faster but lack the ability to determine the size distribution in samples. To that effect, most of the described methods are applicable depending on the defined analytical question.

Sven Huppertsberg, Thomas P. Knepper, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, , Volume 410, Issue 25, pp 6343–6352

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