Organic pollutants in marine plastic debris from Canary Islands beaches

Given their capacity to adsorb chemical pollutants, microplastics represent a growing environmental concern in the oceans. The levels of 81 chemical compounds in two types of beached microplastic (pellets and fragments) were monitored across the Canary Islands (Spain). The highest concentrations were found for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (52.1–17,023.6 ng/g and 35.1–8725.8 ng/g for pooled pellets and fragments, respectively). The polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations were 0.9–2285.8 and 1.6–772.5 ng/g for pooled pellets and fragments, respectively, whereas organochlorine pesticides (OCP) ranged from 0.4–13,488.7 and 0.4–3778.8 ng/g, respectively. The sum of polychlorinated biphenyls and diphenyl-dichloro-ethane (DDT) metabolites was significantly higher in beaches on Gran Canaria, which is the most populated and industrialized island. The sum of ultraviolet filters (UV-filters) was higher in those beaches more frequented by tourists (Famara and Las Canteras), than in occasionally or very rarely visited beaches (Cuervitos and Lambra), with values ranging from 0 to 37,740.3 ng/g and 3.7–2169.3 ng/g for pellets and fragments, respectively. Furthermore, the sum of brominated diphenyl ethers (BDE) (0–180.58 ng/g for pooled pellets and 0.06–3923.9 ng/g for pooled fragments) and organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFR) (20.0–378.0 ng/g for pooled pellets, and 22.6–7013.9 ng/g for pooled fragments) was significantly higher in an urban beach (Las Canteras) than in the rest of the studied beaches. Finally, the concentrations of the pesticide chlorpyrifos were much higher on Gran Canaria beaches than in the rest. In this research we provide further evidence of the important role of plastic debris in the adsorption of a wide range of marine pollutants. The regional pattern of chemical contamination of plastics reveals that the sorption of many compounds probably occurs in coastal waters. Further investigation is necessary to understand the relationship between plastic types and adsorption of different pollutants, especially for emerging pollutants.

M. Camacho, A. Herrera, M. Gomez and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 662, 20 April 2019, Pages 22-31

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Microplastics as Vehicles of Environmental PAHs to Marine Organisms: Combined Chemical and Physical Hazards to the Mediterranean Mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis

The ubiquitous occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in the marine environment is raising concern for interactions with marine organisms. These particles efficiently adsorb persistent organic pollutants from surrounding environment and, due to the small size, they are easily available for ingestion at all trophic levels. Once ingested, MPs can induce mechanical damage, sub-lethal effects, and various cellular responses, further modulated by possible release of adsorbed chemicals or additives. In this study, ecotoxicological effects of MPs and their interactions with benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), chosen as a model compound for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were investigated in Mediterranean mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis. Organisms were exposed for 4 weeks to 10 mg/L of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) microparticles (2.34 * 107 particles/L, size range 20–25 μm), both virgin and pre-contaminated with BaP (15 μg/g). Organisms were also exposed for comparison to BaP dosed alone at 150 ng/L, corresponding to the amount adsorbed on microplastics. Tissue localization of microplastics was histologically evaluated; chemical analyses and a wide battery of biomarkers covering molecular, biochemical and cellular levels allowed to evaluate BaP bioaccumulation, alterations of immune system, antioxidant defenses, onset of oxidative stress, peroxisomal proliferation, genotoxicity, and neurotoxicity. Obtained data were elaborated within a quantitative weight of evidence (WOE) model which, using weighted criteria, provided synthetic hazard indices, for both chemical and cellular results, before their integration in a combined index. Microplastics were localized in hemolymph, gills, and especially digestive tissues where a potential transfer of BaP from MPs was also observed. Significant alterations were measured on the immune system, while more limited effects occurred on the oxidative status, neurotoxicity, and genotoxicity, with a different susceptibility of analyzed pathways, depending on tissue, time, and typology of exposure. Molecular analyses confirmed the general lack of significant transcriptional variations of antioxidant and stress genes. The overall results suggest that microplastics induce a slight cellular toxicity under short-term (28 days) exposure conditions. However, modulation of immune responses, along with bioaccumulation of BaP, pose the still unexplored risk that these particles, under conditions of more chronic exposure (months to years) or interacting with other stressors, may provoke long-term, subtle effects on organisms’ health status.

Lucia Pittura, Carlo G. Avio, Maria E. Giuliani, Giuseppe d’Errico, Steffen H. Keiter, Bettie Cormier, Stefania Gorbi and Francesco Regoli, Front. Mar. Sci., 03 April 2018

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Size Matters: Ingestion of Relatively Large Microplastics Contaminated with Environmental Pollutants Posed Little Risk for Fish Health and Fillet Quality

In this study, we investigated biological effects associated with ingestion of polystyrene (PS) microplastic (MPs) in fish. We examined whether ingestion of contaminated PS MPs (100–400 μm) results in chemical stress in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) liver and we explored whether this exposure can affect the oxidative stability of the fillet during ice storage. Juvenile rainbow trout were fed for 4 weeks with four different experimental diets: control (1) and feeds containing virgin PS MPs (2) or PS MPs exposed to sewage (3) or harbor (4) effluent. A suite of ecotoxicological biomarkers for oxidative stress and xenobiotic-related pathways was investigated in the hepatic tissue, and included gene expression analyses and enzymatic measurements. The potential impact of MPs exposure on fillet quality was investigated in a storage trial where lipid hydroperoxides, loss of redness and development of rancid odor were assessed as indications of lipid peroxidation. Although, chemical analysis of PS MPs revealed that particles sorb environmental contaminants (e.g., PAHs, nonylphenol and alcohol ethoxylates and others), the ingestion of relatively high doses of these PS MPs did not induce adverse hepatic stress in fish liver. Apart from small effect on redness loss in fillets of fish exposed to PS MPs, the ingestion of these particles did not affect lipid peroxidation or rancid odor development, thus did not affect fillet’s quality.

Giedrė Ašmonaitė, Karin Larsson, Ingrid Undeland and al., Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, November 19, 2018

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Microplastics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Xiamen coastal areas: Implications for anthropogenic impacts

Microplastics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were investigated to study the influence of human activities and to find their possible relationship on the coastal environments, where the coastal areas around Xiamen are undergoing intensive processes of industrialization and urbanization in the southeast China. The abundance of microplastics in Xiamen coastal areas was 103 to 2017 particles/m3 in surface seawater and 76 to 333 particles/kg in sediments. Concentrations of dissolved PAHs varied from 18.1 to 248 ng/L in surface seawater. The abundances of microplastics from the Western Harbor in surface seawater and sediments were higher than those from other areas. Foams were dominated in surface seawater samples, however, no foams were found in sediments samples. The microscope selection and FTIR analysis suggested that polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) were dominant microplastics. The cluster analysis results demonstrated that fibers and granules had the similar sources, and films had considerably correlation with all types of PAHs (3 or 4-ring PAHs and alkylated PAHs). Plastic film mulch from agriculture practice might be a potential source of microplastics in study areas. Results of our study support that river runoff, watershed area, population and urbanization rate influence the distribution of microplastics in estuarine surface water, and the prevalence of microplastic pollution calls for monitoring microplastics at a national scale.

G. Tang, M. Liu, Q. Zhou and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 634, 1 September 2018, Pages 811-820

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Sorption behaviors of phenanthrene on the microplastics identified in a mariculture farm in Xiangshan Bay, southeastern China

Recently, with the accumulation of evidence that microplastic can be ingested by a variety of marine organisms, microplastic sorption behaviors towards organic contaminants (OCs) have become the subject of more studies due to the concerns about the contaminant vector effect. In this study, the priority microplastics identified in a mariculture farm in Xiangshan Bay, China, including polyethylene (PE) and nylon fibers (i.e., derived from new fishing ropes and nets), were examined for their sorption behaviors. The results indicate that both plastic fibers show linear isotherms towards phenanthrene, a common target hydrophobic organic contaminant (HOC), revealing the characteristics of a partitioning mechanism. The sorption capacity of PE fiber was found to be 1–2 orders of magnitude higher (evaluated by Freundlich parameter log KF) than that of nylon fiber, suggesting the importance of plastic surface functional groups (i.e., with or without hydrophilic groups). By comparing carbon normalized log KF with literature data, the organic affinity of PE fiber was found to be 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than that of vectors, such as carbonaceous geosorbents (CG), but was 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than that of marine sediments. Small size and rough surface tended to enhance the sorption of plastic fibers of phenanthrene. In addition, phenol (log KOW: 1.46), a low-hydrophobicity compound, showed approximately 3 orders of magnitude lower sorption amounts onto both fibers compared to phenanthrene (log KOW: 4.46), indicating the selectivity of hydrophobicity. The results of this study demonstrate that the high abundance of plastic fibers distributed in mariculture farms could lead to a higher contaminant transfer effect than marine sediments, and their effects on cultured seafood (e.g., crab and fish) need further investigation.

Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 628–629, 1 July 2018, Pages 1617–1626
Zheng Wang, Minglong Chen, Liwen Zhang and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 628–629, 1 July 2018, Pages 1617–1626

Characterization of microplastic litter in the gastrointestinal tract of Solea solea from the Adriatic Sea

Micro-plastic particles in the world’s oceans represent a serious threat to both human health and marine ecosystems. Once released into the aquatic environment plastic litter is broken down to smaller pieces through photo-degradation and the physical actions of waves, wind, etc. The resulting particles may become so small that they are readily taken up by fish, crustaceans and mollusks. There is mounting evidence for the uptake of plastic particles by marine organisms that form part of the human food chain and this is driving urgent calls for further and deeper investigations into this pollution issue.

The present study aimed at investigating for the first time the occurrence, amount, typology of microplastic litter in the gastrointestinal tract of Solea solea and its spatial distribution in the northern and central Adriatic Sea. This benthic flatfish was selected as it is a species of high commercial interest within the FAO GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) area 37 (Mediterranean and Black Sea) where around 15% of the overall global Solea solea production originates.

The digestive tract contents of 533 individuals collected in fall during 2014 and 2015 from 60 sampling sites were examined for microplastics. These were recorded in 95% of sampled fish, with more than one microplastic item found in around 80% of the examined specimens. The most commonly found polymers were polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, and polyamide, 72% as fragments and 28% as fibers. The mean number of ingested microplastics was 1.73 ± 0.05 items per fish in 2014 and 1.64 ± 0.1 in 2015. PVC and PA showed the highest densities in the northern Adriatic Sea, both inshore and off-shore while PE, PP and PET were more concentrated in coastal areas with the highest values offshore from the port of Rimini.

G. Pellini, A. Gomiero, T. Fortibuoni and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 234, March 2018, Pages 943–952

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Baseline evaluation of sediment contamination in the shallow coastal areas of Saudi Arabian Red Sea

Despite the growing recognition of the importance of water and sediment quality there is still limited information on contamination levels in many regions globally including the Red Sea. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of three classes of contaminants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – PAH; metals; plastics) in coastal sediments along the Saudi Arabian Red Sea mainly collected using grabs. Background concentrations are provided for metals in the region. Concentrations of metals and PAH were generally low in comparison to international guidelines. A clear relationship between the concentration of metals and anthropogenic sources was not always apparent and dust and vegetation may be relevant players in the region. Microplastic items (mainly polyethylene) were abundant (reaching up to 1 g m− 2 and 160 pieces m− 2) and in general associated with areas of high human activity. This study provides critical information for future monitoring and the development of national policies within the Red Sea region.

Pedro Ruiz-Compean, Joanne Ellis, João Cúrdia, Richard Payumo, Ute Langner, Burton Jones, Susana Carvalho, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 12 September 2017, In Press

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