Releasing of hexabromocyclododecanes from expanded polystyrenes in seawater -field and laboratory experiments

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a major component of marine debris globally. Recently, hazardous hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) were detected in EPS buoys used for aquaculture farming. Subsequently, enrichment of HBCDDs was found in nearby marine sediments and mussels growing on EPS buoys. It was suspected that EPS buoys and their debris might be sources of HBCDDs. To confirm this, the release of HBCDDs from EPS spherules detached from a buoy to seawater was investigated under field (open sea surface and closed outdoor chambers with sun exposure and in the dark) and laboratory (particle-size) conditions. In all exposure groups, initial rapid leaching of HBCDDs was followed by slow desorption over time. Abundant release of HBCDDs was observed from EPS spherules exposed to the open sea surface (natural) and on exposure to sunlight irradiation or in the dark in controlled saline water. Water leaching and UV-light/temperature along with possibly biodegradation were responsible for about 37% and 12% of HBCDDs flux, respectively. Crumbled EPS particles (≤ 1 mm) in samples deployed on the sea surface for 6 months showed a high degree of weathering. This implies that surface erosion and further fragmentation of EPS via environmental weathering could enhance the leaching of HBCDDs from the surface of EPS. Overall, in the marine environment, HBCDDs could be released to a great extent from EPS products and their debris due to the cumulative effects of the movement of large volumes of water (dilution), biodegradation, UV-light/temperature, wave action (shaking), salinity and further fragmentation of EPS spherules.

Manviri Rani, Won Joon Shim, Mi Jang and al., Chemosphere, Available online 11 July 2017, In Press, Accepted Manuscript

The article

The uptake of macroplastic & microplastic by demersal & pelagic fish in the Northeast Atlantic around Scotland

This study reports plastic ingestion in various fish found from coastal and offshore sites in Scottish marine waters. Coastal samples consisted of three demersal flatfish species (n = 128) collected from the East and West coasts of Scotland. Offshore samples consisted of 5 pelagic species and 4 demersal species (n = 84) collected from the Northeast Atlantic. From the coastal fish sampled, 47.7% of the gastrointestinal tracts contained macroplastic and microplastic. Of the 84 pelagic and demersal offshore fish, only 2 (2.4%) individuals from different species had ingested plastic identified as a clear polystyrene fibre and a black polyamide fibre. The average number of plastic items found per fish from all locations that had ingested plastic was 1.8 (± 1.7) with polyamide (65.3%), polyethylene terephthalate (14.4%) and acrylic (14.4%) being the three most commonly found plastics. This study adds to the existing data on macroplastic and microplastic ingestion in fish species.

Fionn Murphy, Marie Russell, Ciaran Ewins, Brian Quinn, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 10 July 2017, In Press

The article

Monitoring of styrene oligomers as indicators of polystyrene plastic pollution in the North-West Pacific Ocean

Styrene oligomers (SOs) as global contaminants are an environmental concern. However, little is known on the distribution of SOs in the ocean. Here, we show the distribution of anthropogenic SOs generated from discarded polystyrene (PS) plastic monitored from the coastal ocean surface waters (horizontal distribution) and deep seawaters (vertical distribution) in the North-West Pacific Ocean. SOs concentrations in surface seawater and deep seawater ranged from 0.17 to 4.26 μg L−1 (total mean: 1.48 ± 1.23 μg L−1) and from 0.31 to 4.31 μg L−1 (total mean: 1.32 ± 0.87 μg L−1), respectively. Since there is no significant difference in the mean concentrations, SOs seems to be spread across marine environment selected in this study. Nevertheless, regional SOs appears to persist to varying degrees with their broad horizontal and vertical distribution in the ocean. Each horizontal and vertical distribution of SOs differs by approximately 1.95–2.57 times, probably depending on the events of weather and global ocean circulation. These results provide the distribution pattern of SOs for assessing environmental pollution arising from PS plastic.

Bum Gun Kwon, Keiji Amamiya, Hideto Sato and al., Chemosphere, Volume 180, August 2017, Pages 500–505

The article

Ingestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna – Quantification of body burdens and assessment of feeding rates and reproduction

Evidence is increasing that micro- and nanoplastic particles can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms. Exposure studies have so far mainly been qualitative since quantitative measurements of particle ingestion are analytically challenging. The aim of this study was therefore to use a quantitative approach for determining ingestion and egestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna and to analyze the influence of particle size, exposure duration and the presence of food. One week old animals were exposed to 2 μm and 100 nm fluorescent polystyrene beads (1 mg/l) for 24 h, followed by a 24 h egestion period in clean medium. During both phases body burdens of particles were determined by measuring the fluorescence intensity in dissolved tissues. Ingestion and egestion were investigated in the absence and presence of food (6.7·105 cells of Raphidocelis subcapitata per ml). Furthermore, feeding rates of daphnids in response to particle exposure were measured as well as effects on reproduction during a 21 days exposure (at 1 mg/l, 0.5 mg/l and 0.1 mg/l) to investigate potential impairments of physiology. Both particle sizes were readily ingested, but the ingested mass of particles was five times higher for the 2 μm particles than for the 100 nm particles. Complete egestion did not occur within 24 h but generally higher amounts of the 2 μm particles were egested. Animal body burdens of particles were strongly reduced in the presence of food. Daphnid feeding rates decreased by 21% in the presence of 100 nm particles, but no effect on reproduction was found despite high body burdens of particles at the end of 21 days exposure. The lower egestion and decreased feeding rates, caused by the 100 nm particles, could indicate that particles in the nanometer size range are potentially more hazardous to D. magna compared to larger particle sizes.

Sinja Rist, Anders Baun, Nanna B. Hartmann, Environmental Pollution, Volume 228, September 2017, Pages 398–407

Long-term toxicity of surface-charged polystyrene nanoplastics to marine planktonic species Dunaliella tertiolecta and Artemia franciscana

Plastic pollution has been globally recognized as a critical issue for marine ecosystems and nanoplastics constitute one of the last unexplored areas to understand the magnitude of this threat. However, current difficulties in sampling and identifying nano-sized debris make hard to assess their occurrence in marine environment. Polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) are largely used as nanoplastics in ecotoxicological studies and although acute exposures have been already investigated, long-term toxicity on marine organisms is unknown. Our study aims at evaluating the effects of 40 nm PS anionic carboxylated (PS-COOH) and 50 nm cationic amino-modified (PS-NH2) NPs in two planktonic species, the green microalga Dunaliella tertiolecta and the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana, respectively prey and predator. PS NP behaviour in exposure media was determined through DLS, while their toxicity to microalgae and brine shrimps evaluated through 72 h growth inhibition test and 14 d long-term toxicity test respectively. Moreover, the expression of target genes (i.e. clap and cstb), having a role in brine shrimp larval growth and molting, was measured in 48 h brine shrimp larvae. A different behaviour of the two PS NPs in exposure media as well as diverse toxicity to the two planktonic species was observed. PS-COOH formed micro-scale aggregates (Z-Average > 1 μm) and did not affect the growth of microalgae up to 50 μg/ml or that of brine shrimps up to 10 μg/ml. However, these negatively charged NPs were adsorbed on microalgae and accumulated (and excreted) in brine shrimps, suggesting a potential trophic transfer from prey to predator. On the opposite, PS-NH2-formed nano-scale aggregates (Z-Average < 200 nm), caused inhibition of algal growth (EC50 = 12.97 μg/ml) and mortality in brine shrimps at 14 d (LC50 = 0.83 μg/ml). Moreover, 1 μg/ml PS-NH2 significantly induced clap and cstb genes, explaining the physiological alterations (e.g. increase in molting) previously observed in 48 h larvae, but also suggesting an apoptotic pathway triggered by cathepsin L-like protease in brine shrimps upon PS-NH2 exposure. These findings provide a first insight into long-term toxicity of nanoplastics to marine plankton, underlining the role of the surface chemistry in determining the behaviour and effects of PS NPs, in terms of adsorption, growth inhibition, accumulation, gene modulation and mortality. The use of long-term end-point has been identified as valuable tool for assessing the impact of nanoplastics on marine planktonic species, being more predictable of real exposure scenarios for risk assessment purposes.

E. Bergami, S. Pugnalini, M.L. Vannuccini, L. Manfra, C. Faleri, F. Savorelli, K.A. Dawson, I. Corsi, Aquatic Toxicology, Aquatic Toxicology, Volume 189, August 2017, Pages 159–169

The article

The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries

The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in saltwater bodies is relatively well studied, but nothing is known about their presence in most of the commercial salts that are widely consumed by humans across the globe. Here, we extracted MP-like particles larger than 149 μm from 17 salt brands originating from 8 different countries followed by the identification of their polymer composition using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics were absent in one brand while others contained between 1 to 10 MPs/Kg of salt. Out of the 72 extracted particles, 41.6% were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.50% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% remained unidentified. The particle size (mean ± SD) was 515 ± 171 μm. The most common plastic polymers were polypropylene (40.0%) and polyethylene (33.3%). Fragments were the primary form of MPs (63.8%) followed by filaments (25.6%) and films (10.6%). According to our results, the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts (maximum 37 particles per individual per annum) warrants negligible health impacts. However, to better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption, further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm.

Ali Karami, Abolfazl Golieskardi, Cheng Keong Choo, Vincent Larat, Tamara S. Gallowa & Babak Salamatinia, Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 46173 (2017)

The article

Pollutant content in marine debris and characterization by thermal decomposition

Marine debris (MDs) produces a wide variety of negative environmental, economic, safety, health and cultural impacts. Most marine litter has a very low decomposition rate (plastics), leading to a gradual accumulation in the coastal and marine environment. Characterization of the MDs has been done in terms of their pollutant content: PAHs, ClBzs, ClPhs, BrPhs, PCDD/Fs and PCBs. The results show that MDs is not a very contaminated waste. Also, thermal decomposition of MDs materials has been studied in a thermobalance at different atmospheres and heating rates. Below 400–500 K, the atmosphere does not affect the thermal degradation of the mentioned waste. However, at temperatures between 500 and 800 K the presence of oxygen accelerates the decomposition. Also, a kinetic model is proposed for the combustion of the MDs, and the decomposition is compared with that of their main constituents, i.e., polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP), nylon and polyethylene-terephthalate (PET).

M.E. Iñiguez, J.A. Conesa, A. Fullana, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 117, Issues 1–2, 15 April 2017, Pages 359–365

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