Small-sized microplastics and pigmented particles in bottled mineral water


• 32 samples of mineral water were investigated for microparticles (down to 1 μm size).

• Water from all bottle types was contaminated with microplastics.

• Water from reusable, paper labelled bottles contained pigmented particles.

• About 90% of microplastics/pigmented particles were smaller than 5 μm.

• Potential contamination sources like the packaging material are discussed.

Barbara E. Oßmann, George Sarau, Heinrich Holtmannspötter and al., Water Research, Volume 141, 15 September 2018, Pages 307-316

The article


Distribution of Microplastics and Nanoplastics in Aquatic Ecosystems and Their Impacts on Aquatic Organisms, with Emphasis on Microalgae

Plastics, with their many useful physical and chemical properties, are widely used in various industries and activities of daily living. Yet, the insidious effects of plastics, particularly long-term effects on aquatic organisms, are not properly understood. Plastics have been shown to degrade to micro- and nanosize particles known as microplastics and nanoplastics, respectively. These minute particles have been shown to cause various adverse effects on aquatic organisms, ranging from growth inhibition, developmental delay and altered feeding behaviour in aquatic animals to decrease of photosynthetic efficiency and induction of oxidative stress in microalgae. This review paper covers the distribution of microplastics and nanoplastics in aquatic ecosystems, focusing on their effects on microalgae as well as co-toxicity of microplastics and nanoplastics with other pollutants. Besides that, this review paper also discusses future research directions which could be taken to gain a better understanding of the impacts of microplastics and nanoplastics on aquatic ecosystems.

Jun-Kit Wan, Wan-Loy Chu, Yih-Yih Kok, Choy-Sin Lee, Chapter, Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series, Springer

The chapter

Marine microplastic debris: An emerging issue for food security, food safety and human health

Recent studies have demonstrated the negative impacts of microplastics on wildlife. Therefore, the presence of microplastics in marine species for human consumption and the high intake of seafood (fish and shellfish) in some countries cause concern about the potential effects of microplastics on human health. In this brief review, the evidence of seafood contamination by microplastics is reviewed, and the potential consequences of the presence of microplastics in the marine environment for human food security, food safety and health are discussed. Furthermore, challenges and gaps in knowledge are identified. The knowledge on the adverse effects on human health due to the consumption of marine organisms containing microplastics is very limited, difficult to assess and still controversial. Thus, assessment of the risk posed to humans is challenging. Research is urgently needed, especially regarding the potential exposure and associated health risk to micro- and nano-sized plastics.

Luís Gabriel Antão Barboza, A. Dick Vethaak, Beatriz R.B.O. Lavorante and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 133, August 2018, Pages 336–348

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

The article

Toxicities of polystyrene nano- and microplastics toward marine bacterium Halomonas alkaliphila

Nano- and microplastics have been shown to cause negative effects on marine organisms. However, the toxicities of nano- and microplastics toward marine bacteria are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the toxic effects of polystyrene nano- and microplastics on the marine bacterium Halomonas alkaliphila by determining growth inhibition, chemical composition, inorganic nitrogen conversion efficiencies and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. The results showed that both nano- and microplastics inhibited the growth of H. alkaliphila in high concentrations, while nanoplastics rather than microplastics influenced the growth inhibition, chemical composition and ammonia conversion efficiencies of H. alkaliphila at concentration of 80 mg/L. The ROS generation indicated oxidative stress induced by nano- but not microplastics, and the oxidative stress induced by nanoplastics may provide a significant effect on bacteria. Furthermore, the positively charged nanoplastics (amine-modified 50 nm) induced higher oxidative stress toward bacteria than that induced by negatively charged nanoplastics (non-modified 55 nm). The increased extracellular polymeric substances as evidenced by transmission electron microscope (TEM) observation suggested the possible bacterial protective mechanisms. The present study illustrates for the first time the impact of plastics debris on the inorganic nitrogen conversion efficiencies of marine bacteria. Our findings highlight the effects of microplastics on the ecological function of marine organisms.

Xuemei Sun, Bijuan Chen, Qiufen Li, Nan Liu, Bin Xia, Lin Zhu, Keming Qu, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 642, 15 November 2018, Pages 1378–1385

The article

Hazardous Chemicals in Plastics in Marine Environments: International Pellet Watch

Marine plastic debris, including microplastics <5 mm, contain additives as well as hydrophobic chemicals sorbed from surrounding seawater. A volunteer-based global monitoring programme entitled International Pellet Watch (IPW) is utilizing the sorptive nature of plastics, more specifically of beached polyethylene (PE) pellets, in order to measure persistent organic pollutants (POPs) throughout the world. Spatial patterns of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides have been revealed. Original data of IPW show large piece-to-piece variability in PCB concentrations in pellets collected at each location. This is explained by the combination of slow sorption/desorption and large variabilities of speed and route of floating plastics. The sporadically high concentrations of POPs, both sorbed chemicals and hydrophobic additives, are frequently observed in pellets and the other microplastics in open ocean and remote islands. This poses a chemical threat to marine ecosystems in remote areas.

Rei Yamashita, Kosuke Tanaka, Bee Geok Yeo, Hideshige Takada, Jan A. van Franeker, Megan Dalton, Eric Dale, chapter In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Springer, pp 1-21,

The chapter

Accumulation of polystyrene microplastics in juvenile Eriocheir sinensis and oxidative stress effects in the liver

As a widespread and ubiquitous pollutant of marine ecosystems, microplastic has the potential to become an emerging global threat for aquatic organisms. The present study aims to elucidate the effects of microplastics on the growth, accumulation and oxidative stress response in the liver of Eriocheir sinensis. Fluorescent microplastic particles (diameter = 0.5 μm) accumulated in the gill, liver and gut tissues of E. sinensis were investigated when crabs were exposed to a concentration of 40000 μg/L for 7 days. A 21 day toxicity test suggested that the rate of weight gain, specific growth rate, and hepatosomatic index of E. sinensis decreased with increasing microplastic concentration (0 μg/L, 40 μg/L, 400 μg/L, 4000 μg/L and 40000 μg/L). The activities of AChE and GPT in crabs exposed to microplastics were lower than those in control group. GOT activity increased significantly after exposure to a low concentration of microplastics and then decreased continuously with increasing microplastic concentrations. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), aspartate transaminase (GOT), glutathione (GSH), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) increased in specimens exposed to low concentrations of microplastics (40 and 400 μg/L) compared to the control and decreased in organisms exposed to high concentrations (4000 and 40000 μg/L). In contrast, the activities of acetylcholinesterase, catalase (CAT), and alanine aminotransferase were significantly lower in the organisms exposed to microplastics compared to control animals. Upon exposure to increasing microplastic concentrations, the expression of genes encoding the antioxidants SOD, CAT, GPx and glutathione S-transferase in the liver decreased after first increasing. Exposure to microplastics increased the expression of the gene encoding p38 in the MAPK signaling pathway and significantly decreased the expressions of genes encoding ERK, AKT, and MEK. The results of this study demonstrate that microplastics can accumulate in the tissues of E. sinensis and negatively affect growth. In addition, exposure to microplastics causes damage and induces oxidative stress in the hepatopancreas of E. sinensis. The findings provide basic biological data for environmental and human risk assessments of microplastics of high concern.

P. Yu, Z. Liu, D. Wu and al., Aquatic Toxicology, Volume 200, July 2018, Pages 28-36

The article