Detection of microplastics in local marine organisms using a multi-technology system

Microplastics with complex polymer compositions are present in a lot of marine organisms. In this study, successive stereo microscopy and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy equipped with attenuated total reflection (μ-ATR-FTIR) in combination with scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) were implemented to establish a highly accurate microplastics detection system. The method was applied to analyze microplastics in both the soft tissue and the digestive tract of bivalves and fish collected from the markets in Qingdao and Dongying. The results showed that the individual detection rate of microplastics was higher in the fish than that in the bivalves and that the abundance of microplastics measured in items per individual was significantly higher in the fish than that in the bivalves. Four shapes of microplastics, including fibers, fragments, granules and films, were separated from the organisms above. Fibrous microplastics, being the most dominant ones, accounted for over 70% in different organisms. The average size of the fibrous microplastics was smaller than that of the other three shapes of microplastics. The number of microplastics decreased with increasing microplastics sizes. Microplastics of less than 1 mm obtained from different organisms were in the range of 43% to 78%. Rayon (a semi-synthetic polymer) was the most predominant polymer type of microplastics found, accounting for 48.92%. The demersal fish contained relatively more rayon compared with the pelagic fish samples. Surface chemical components of the microplastics were altered possibly owing to the abiotic oxidation. Large variations of the weathering morphologies were observed in the surface of the differently shaped microplastics originating from the organisms. Some microplastics exhibited a rough surface, broken margins, and pronounced pores. SEM-EDS, as an auxiliary technology, would provide a way for data calibration in microplastics investigation. The combination method can provide complementary data and therefore can be successfully applied to accurately identify microplastics.

and al., Analytical Methods, n°1, 2019

The article

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Studies of the effects of microplastics on aquatic organisms: What do we know and where should we focus our efforts in the future?

The effects of microplastics (MP) on aquatic organisms are currently the subject of intense research. Here, we provide a critical perspective on published studies of MP ingestion by aquatic biota. We summarize the available research on MP presence, behaviour and effects on aquatic organisms monitored in the field and on laboratory studies of the ecotoxicological consequences of MP ingestion. We consider MP polymer type, shape, size as well as group of organisms studied and type of effect reported. Specifically, we evaluate whether or not the available laboratory studies of MP are representative of the types of MPs found in the environment and whether or not they have reported on relevant groups or organisms. Analysis of the available data revealed that 1) despite their widespread detection in field-based studies, polypropylene, polyester and polyamide particles were under-represented in laboratory studies; 2) fibres and fragments (800–1600 μm) are the most common form of MPs reported in animals collected from the field; 3) to date, most studies have been conducted on fish; knowledge is needed about the effects of MPs on other groups of organisms, especially invertebrates. Furthermore, there are significant mismatches between the types of MP most commonly found in the environment or reported in field studies and those used in laboratory experiments. Finally, there is an overarching need to understand the mechanism of action and ecotoxicological effects of environmentally relevant concentrations of MPs on aquatic organism health.

Luís Carlos de Sá, Miguel Oliveira, Francisca Ribeiro and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 645, 15 December 2018, Pages 1029-1039

The article

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

The article

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

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

The article

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

The article

Microplastic contamination in benthic organisms from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions

The seafloor is recognized as one of the major sinks for microplastics (MPs). However, to date there have been no studies reported the MP contamination in benthic organisms from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Therefore, this study provided the first data on the abundances and characteristics of MPs in a total of 413 dominant benthic organisms representing 11 different species inhabiting in the shelf of Bering and Chukchi Seas. The mean abundances of MP uptake by the benthos from all sites ranged from 0.02 to 0.46 items g−1 wet weight (ww) or 0.04–1.67 items individual−1, which were lower values than those found in other regions worldwide. The highest value appeared at the northernmost site, implying that the sea ice and the cold current represent possible transport mediums. Interestingly, the predator A. rubens ingested the maximum quantities of MPs, suggesting that the trophic transfer of MPs through benthic food webs may play a critical role. Fibers constituted the major type (87%) in each species, followed by film (13%). The colors of fibers were classified as red (46%) and transparent (41%), and the film was all gray. The predominant composition was polyamide (PA) (46%), followed by polyethylene (PE) (23%), polyester (PET) (18%) and cellophane (CP) (13%). The most common sizes of MPs concentrated in the interval from 0.10 to 1.50 mm, and the mean size was 1.45 ± 0.13 mm. Further studies about the temporal trends and detrimental effects of MPs remain to be carried out in benthic organisms from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

Chao Fang, Ronghui Zheng, Yusheng Zhang and al., Chemosphere, Volume 209, October 2018, Pages 298–306

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