Arctic sea ice is an important temporal sink and means of transport for microplastic

Microplastics (MP) are recognized as a growing environmental hazard and have been identified as far as the remote Polar Regions, with particularly high concentrations of microplastics in sea ice. Little is known regarding the horizontal variability of MP within sea ice and how the underlying water body affects MP composition during sea ice growth. Here we show that sea ice MP has no uniform polymer composition and that, depending on the growth region and drift paths of the sea ice, unique MP patterns can be observed in different sea ice horizons. Thus even in remote regions such as the Arctic Ocean, certain MP indicate the presence of localized sources. Increasing exploitation of Arctic resources will likely lead to a higher MP load in the Arctic sea ice and will enhance the release of MP in the areas of strong seasonal sea ice melt and the outflow gateways.

Ilka Peeken, Sebastian Primpke, Birte Beyer, Julia Gütermann, Christian Katlein, Thomas Krumpen, Melanie Bergmann, Laura Hehemann,  Gunnar Gerdts, Nature Communications, volume 9, 24 April 2018

The article

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Sticky tape and simulations help assess microplastic risk

Tiny pieces of plastic, now ubiquitous in the marine environment, have long been a cause of concern for their ability to absorb toxic substances and potentially penetrate the food chain. Now scientists are beginning to understand the level of threat posed to life, by gauging the extent of marine accumulation and tracking the movement of these contaminants. (…)

N. Grover, Horizon EU magazine, 23/04/2018

The news

Fighting ocean plastics at the source

Some 8 million metric tons of plastic escapes into the world’s oceans each year, most of it from countries in Southeast Asia, where plastics use has outpaced waste management infrastructure. The situation is approaching catastrophic proportions. Read on to learn how governments, companies, and other organizations are focusing on the region in the hope that stopping the flow of trash there will substantially decrease plastic pollution.

Alexander H. Tullo, C&EN New York City, C&EN, 2018, 96 (16), pp 28–34, April 16, 2018

The article

The influence of microplastics and halogenated contaminants in feed on toxicokinetics and gene expression in European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

When microplastics pollute fish habitats, it may be ingested by fish, thereby contaminating fish with sorbed contaminants. The present study investigates how combinations of halogenated contaminants and microplastics associated with feed are able to alter toxicokinetics in European seabass and affect the fish. Microplastic particles (2%) were added to the feed either with sorbed contaminants or as a mixture of clean microplastics and chemical contaminants, and compared to feed containing contaminants without microplastics. For the contaminated microplastic diet, the accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in fish was significantly higher, increasing up to 40 days of accumulation and then reversing to values comparable to the other diets at the end of accumulation. The significant gene expression results of liver (cyp1a, il1β, gstα) after 40 days of exposure indicate that microplastics might indeed exacerbate the toxic effects (liver metabolism, immune system, oxidative stress) of some chemical contaminants sorbed to microplastics. Seabass quickly metabolised BDE99 to BDE47 by debromination, probably mediated by deiodinase enzymes, and unlike other contaminants, this metabolism was unaffected by the presence of microplastics. For the other PCBs and BFRs, the elimination coefficients were significantly lower in fish fed the diet with contaminants sorbed to microplastic compared to the other diets. The results indicate that microplastics affects liver detoxification and lipid distribution, both of which affect the concentration of contaminants.

Kit Granby, Sandra Rainieri, Rie Romme Rasmussen and al., Environmental Research, Volume 164, July 2018, Pages 430-443

The article

Conférence « Microplastiques : impacts, enjeux et comportements » jeudi 22 mars, Océanopolis (Brest)

Accès libre (20h30, Auditorium Marion Dufresne, Océanopolis, Brest)

Les microplastiques, une menace pour les organismes marins ?

Résumé : Les plastiques sont des matériaux persistants qui s’accumulent dans l’environnement marin et peuvent affecter les organismes marins. Les microplastiques sont généralement définis comme l’ensemble des particules de plastique inférieures à 1 mm. Ils sont composés de matériaux persistants, d’origine anthropique, qui s’accumule dans l’environnement marin. Ils proviennent notamment (origine primaire) d’abrasifs industriels, de la pré-production de pastilles plastiques, du rejet de fibres synthétiques issus de nos lessives ou sont les produits de dégradation (origine secondaire) des macro-déchets plastiques.

Ils contiennent des additifs potentiellement toxiques, mais sont aussi concentrateurs de contaminants organiques persistants ainsi que véhicules de microorganismes. Ils peuvent être ingérés par les organismes marins et ainsi entrer dans la chaine alimentaire.

Notre travail consiste à caractériser les niveaux de contamination dans le milieu marin, et notamment en rade de Brest, pour ensuite permettre des expositions en conditions de laboratoire à des doses et sous conditions environnementales afin d’estimer les impacts de particules de plastiques sur les organismes marins, information importante pour permettre de l’aide à la décision.

Characterization of microplastic litter from oceans by an innovative approach based on hyperspectral imaging

An innovative approach, based on HyperSpectral Imaging (HSI), was developed in order to set up an efficient method to analyze marine microplastic litter. HSI was applied to samples collected by surface-trawling plankton nets from several parts of the world (i.e. Arctic, Mediterranean, South Atlantic and North Pacific). Reliable information on abundance, size, shape and polymer type for the whole ensemble of plastic particles in each sample was retrieved from single hyperspectral images. The simultaneous characterization of the polymeric composition of the plastic debris represents an important analytical advantage considering that this information, and even the validation of the plastic nature of the small debris, is a common flaw in the analysis of marine microplastic pollution. HSI was revealed as a rapid, non-invasive, non-destructive and reliable technology for the characterization of the microplastic waste, opening a promising way for improving the plastic pollution monitoring.

Silvia Serranti, Roberta Palmieri, Giuseppe Bonifazi, Andrés Cózar, Waste Management, Available online 5 March 2018, In Press

The article

Marine litter in an EBSA (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area) of the central Mediterranean Sea: Abundance, composition, impact on benthic species and basis for monitoring entanglement

Marine litter is commonly observed everywhere in the ocean. In this study, we analyzed 17 km of video footage, collected by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) at depths ranging between 20 and 220 m, during 19 transects performed on the rocky banks of the Straits of Sicily. Recently, the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognized this site as an Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area (EBSA). The research aim was to quantify the abundance of marine litter and its impact on benthic fauna. Litter density ranged from 0 items/100 m2 to 14.02 items/100 m2 with a mean (±standard error) of 2.13 (±0.84) items/100 m2. The observed average density was higher (5.2 items/100 m2) at depths >100 m than at shallower depths (<100 m, 0.71 items/100 m2). Lost or abandoned fishing lines contributed to 98.07% of the overall litter density, then representing the dominant source of marine debris. Litter interactions with fauna were frequently observed, with 30% of litter causing “entanglement/coverage” and 15% causing damage to sessile fauna. A total of 16 species showed interaction (entanglement/coverage or damage) with litter items and 12 of these are species of conservation concern according to international directives and agreements (CITES, Berne Convention, Habitat Directive, SPA/BD Protocol, IUCN Red List); we also observed 7 priority habitats of the SPA/BD Protocol. This research will support the implementation of monitoring “Harm” as recommended by the UN Environment/MAP Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The institution of a SPAMI in the investigated area could represent a good management action for the protection of this hotspot of biodiversity and to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) for the marine environment by 2020, under the MSFD.

Pierpaolo Consoli, Franco Andaloro, Chiara Altobelli and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 236, May 2018, Pages 405–415

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