Ecotoxicological Effects of Chemical Contaminants Adsorbed to Microplastics in the Clam Scrobicularia plana

Although microplastics (MPs) are distributed globally in the marine environment, a great deal of unknowns relating to their ecotoxicological effects on the marine biota remains. Due to their lipophilic nature, microplastics have the potential to adsorb persistent organic pollutants present in contaminated regions, which may increase their detrimental impact once assimilated by organisms. This study investigates the ecotoxicological effects of exposure to low-density polyethylene (LDPE) microplastics (11–13 μm), with and without adsorbed contaminants (benzo[a]pyrene—BaP and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid—PFOS), in the peppery furrow shell clam, Scrobicularia plana. Environmentally relevant concentrations of contaminants (BaP−16.87 ± 0.22 μg g−1 and PFOS−70.22 ± 12.41 μg g−1) were adsorbed to microplastics to evaluate the potential role of plastic particles as a source of chemical contamination once ingested. S. plana were exposed to microplastics, at a concentration of 1 mg L−1, in a water-sediment exposure setup for 14 days. Clams were sampled at the beginning of the experiment (day 0) and after 3, 7, and 14 days. BaP accumulation, in whole clam tissues, was analyzed. A multi-biomarker assessment was conducted in the gills, digestive gland, and haemolymph of clams to clarify the effects of exposure. This included the quantification of antioxidant (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) and biotransformation (glutathione-S-transferases) enzyme activities, oxidative damage (lipid peroxidation levels), genotoxicity (single and double strand DNA breaks), and neurotoxicity (acetylcholinesterase activity). Results suggest a potential mechanical injury of gills caused by ingestion of microplastics that may also affect the analyzed biomarkers. The digestive gland seems less affected by mechanical damage caused by virgin microplastic exposure, with the MPs-adsorbed BaP and PFOS exerting a negative influence over the assessed biomarkers in this tissue.

Sarit O’Donovan, Nélia C. Mestre, Serena Abel, Tainá G. Fonseca, Camilla C. Carteny, Bettie Cormier, Steffen H. Keiter and Maria J. Bebianno, Front. Mar. Sci., 26 April 2018

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Desorption of Hydrophobic Organic Chemicals from Fragment-Type Microplastics

Microplastics provide an important medium for hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs), and the desorption of HOCs from microplastics is an important process for the dynamics of HOCs associated with microplastics. Although desorption kinetics has been studied for microplastics with ideal geometries, most of the microplastics isolated from the environment are irregular fragment-type microplastics. This study investigated the desorption of six model HOCs from polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) fragments to artificial seawater and compared the results with those predicted assuming ideal geometries (e.g., sphere and infinitely flat sheet) of microplastics. The experimental desorption was explained well by the model predictions with the characteristic radius for a sphere and the thickness for a plate estimated from visual imaging. The mass fraction remaining at the later stage of desorption was higher than the model simulation assuming a single characteristic length, likely due to the heterogeneity of the particle size distribution. Although there are inevitable uncertainties, it would be useful to assign a single length dimension in desorption modeling for even fragment-type microplastics, especially for the estimation of desorption half-life.

Hwang Lee, Da-Eun Byun, Ju Min Kim, Jung-Hwan Kwon, Ocean Science Journal, , Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 631–639

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The first application of quantitative 1H NMR spectroscopy as a simple and fast method of identification and quantification of microplastic particles (PE, PET, and PS)

Microplastic (0.001–5 mm) is a serious problem for the environment and is globally distributed. It has been detected in marine and limnic waters as well as in organisms. Until now, microplastic (MP) particles in environmental samples are mainly identified by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) or Raman spectroscopy. Usually, for quantitative detection, time-consuming counting of MP particles in the sample is described. Therefore, a great need for research in the field of size-independent quantitative analysis of MP particles is evident. We present herein the application of quantitative 1H NMR spectroscopy (qNMR) as a new method for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of MP in solution. Polyethylene (PE) granules with a size distribution of  0.994 R2, and the precision is in the range of 99.4–99.9%. The limit of detection (LOD) is in the range of 19–21 μg/mL and the limit of the quantification (LOQ) is in the range of 74–85 mg/mL, so the LOD and LOQ are observed in an environmentally relevant size. In this work, we therefore show that size-independent qualitative and quantitative determination of microplastic particles in model samples using qNMR is possible.

Nadine Peez, Marie-Christine Janiska, Wolfgang Imhof, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, , Volume 411, Issue 4, pp 823–833

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Transfer of PCBs from microplastics under simulated gut fluid conditions is biphasic and reversible

The role of plastic as a vector for bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals is central to the risk assessment of microplastic for human health and the environment. However, transfer kinetics of sorbed contaminants from ingested microplastics are poorly understood. We develop and parameterise a chemical exchange model on microplastics in a gut fluid mimic of aquatic biota, and also included food to provide a better representation of contaminant dynamics when plastic and food are ingested, as would occur in nature. The transfer kinetics of 14 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were measured in gut fluid mimic systems under three environmentally relevant exposure scenarios of plastic ingestion by organisms, for low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and were evaluated with the model. Chemical transfer was demonstrated to be biphasic and fully reversible, with fast exchange within hours followed by a slow transfer lasting for weeks to months. In clean gut systems, the bioavailability of plastic-associated PCBs for lugworms and cod ranged from 14-42% and 45-83% respectively. However, in contaminated gut systems, clean microplastic was capable of rapidly extracting (‘cleaning’) PCBs from food inside the gut, thus demonstrating that the effect of microplastic is context dependent. Therefore, chemical contamination and cleaning are likely to occur simultaneously due to the ingestion of microplastic.

Nur Hazimah Mohamed Nor and Albert A. Koelmans, Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript, January 14, 2019

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Effects of virgin microplastics on goldfish (Carassius auratus)

Microplastics (MPs) are abundant in freshwater and marine environments. They are diverse shape and size and are ingested by organisms. In this study, goldfish (Carassius auratus) were exposed via diet to three types of virgin MPs material types and shapes including fibers, fragments, and pellets. After six weeks of exposure, various sub-lethal effects, but no mortality, was observed. Fish exposed to plastic showed significant weight loss compared with the control. Fibers were found in the gills, gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and feces were not likely to accumulate in the GIT. Pronounced and severe alterations were found in the livers of fish exposed to fibers. The distal intestine showed more pronounced and severe changes compared to the proximal intestine, likely due to an intake of fibers. The ingestion of fibers caused the highest frequencies of progressive and inflammatory changes in the livers and intestines. This is in accordance with the higher organ index in these organs compared to other texa. Conversely, fragments and pellets were not ingested but chewed and expelled. Chewing process resulted in damages to the jaws as ranging from slight exfoliation to deep incisions. The highest frequency of regressive and circulatory (e.g., dilated sinusoids) changes was found in fish exposed to fragments, specifically in the upper and lower jaw, and in lower jaw and liver, respectively. Together, these results demonstrate that ingestion and chewing of MPs lead to damages in various organs and tissues of the gastrointestinal system, and suggest that different materials can have drastically different impacts on fish.

K. Jabeen, B. Li, Q. Chen and al., Chemosphere, Volume 213, December 2018, Pages 323-332

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Optimization, performance, and application of a pyrolysis-GC/MS method for the identification of microplastics

Plastics are found to be major debris composing marine litter; microplastics (MP, < 5 mm) are found in all marine compartments. The amount of MPs tends to increase with decreasing size leading to a potential misidentification when only visual identification is performed. These last years, pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) has been used to get information on the composition of polymers with some applications on MP identification. The purpose of this work was to optimize and then validate a Py-GC/MS method, determine limit of detection (LOD) for eight common polymers, and apply this method on environmental MP. Optimization on multiple GC parameters was carried out using polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) microspheres. The optimized Py-GC/MS method require a pyrolysis temperature of 700 °C, a split ratio of 5 and 300 °C as injector temperature. Performance assessment was accomplished by performing repeatability and intermediate precision tests and calculating limit of detection (LOD) for common polymers. LODs were all below 1 μg. For performance assessment, identification remains accurate despite a decrease in signal over time. A comparison between identifications performed with Raman micro spectroscopy and with Py-GC/MS was assessed. Finally, the optimized method was applied to environmental samples, including plastics isolated from sea water surface, beach sediments, and organisms collected in the marine environment. The present method is complementary to μ-Raman spectroscopy as Py-GC/MS identified pigment containing particles as plastic. Moreover, some fibers and all particles from sediment and sea surface were identified as plastic.

Ludovic Hermabessiere, Charlotte Himber, Béatrice Boricaud, Maria Kazour, Rachid Amara, Anne-Laure Cassone, Michel Laurentie, Ika Paul-Pont, Philippe Soudant, Alexandre Dehaut, Guillaume Duflos, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, , Volume 410, Issue 25, pp 6663–6676

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Single contaminant and combined exposures of polyethylene microplastics and fluoranthene: accumulation and oxidative stress response in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis

The microplastic “vector effect” has received increasing attention. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of polyethylene microplastic beads (PE MP) on accumulation and associated oxidative stress responses attributed to fluoranthene (Flu) in blue mussels, Mytilus edulis. Blue mussels were exposed for 96 h to four treatment groups: Flu-only, MP-only, Flu and MP coexposure, and Flu-incubated MP. Treatments were conducted at a low and high concentration (50 μg/L and 100  Flu μg/L and 100, and 1000 MP/mL). Results demonstrated that in both the gill and digestive gland, coexposure did not markedly affect Flu uptake, but this treatment significantly decreased tissue Flu concentrations. Antioxidant responses including activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidases (GPx), and levels of total glutathione (GSH) in both gills and digestive glands were significantly altered suggesting a perturbation of redox state induced by the exposure conditions. Although individual biomarkers varied, the biomarker profile enabled certain generalizations to be made. Antioxidant responses occurred more likely in gill tissue than in digestive gland. Individual contaminant exposures to Flu or MP led to varying responses, but coexposures and incubated exposures did not result in additive or synergistic effects. Exposure concentrations (i.e., low or high treatments) were not a consistent a predictor of response; and the internal Flu dose did not consistently predict outcome of various biomarkers. Importantly, MP-only exposure appeared to be capable of eliciting direct effects on the oxidative stress system as demonstrated by the activities of CAT and GPx. These findings warrant further investigation.

Gabriele Magara, Antonia Concetta Elia, Kristian Syberg & Farhan R. Khan, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 81 (16), Pages 761-773, 2018

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