Quantitative investigation of the mechanisms of microplastics and nanoplastics toward zebrafish larvae locomotor activity

This study investigated the direct and indirect toxic effects of microplastics and nanoplastics toward zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae locomotor activity. Results showed that microplastics alone exhibited no significant effects except for the upregulated zfrho visual gene expression; whereas nanoplastics inhibited the larval locomotion by 22% during the last darkness period, and significantly reduced larvae body length by 6%, inhibited the acetylcholinesterase activity by 40%, and upregulated gfap, α1-tubulin, zfrho and zfblue gene expression significantly. When co-exposed with 2 μg/L 17 α-ethynylestradiol (EE2), microplastics led to alleviation on EE2’s inhibition effect on locomotion, which was probably due to the decreased freely dissolved EE2 concentration. However, though nanoplastics showed stronger adsorption ability for EE2, the hypoactivity phenomenon still existed in the nanoplastics co-exposure group. Moreover, when co-exposed with a higher concentration of EE2 (20 μg/L), both plastics showed an enhanced effect on the hypoactivity. Principal component analysis was performed to reduce data dimensions and four principal components were reconstituted in terms of oxidative stress, body length, nervous and visual system related genes explaining 84% of total variance. Furthermore, oxidative damage and body length reduction were evaluated to be main reasons for the hypoactivity. Therefore, nanoplastics alone suppressed zebrafish larvae locomotor activity and both plastic particles can change the larvae swimming behavior when co-exposed with EE2. This study provides new insights into plastic particles’ effects on zebrafish larvae, improving the understanding of their environmental risks to the aquatic environment.

Qiqing Chen, Michael Gundlach, Shouye Yang and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 584–585, 15 April 2017, Pages 1022–1031

The article

Acute water quality criteria for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, plastic additives, and 4-Nonylphenol in seawater

Probabilistic environmental quality criteria for Naphthalene (Nap), Phenanthrene (Phe), Fluoranthene (Flu), Pyrene (Pyr), Triclosan (TCS), Tributyltin (TBT), Chlorpyrifos (CPY), Diuron (DUR), γ-Hexaclorocyclohexane (γ-HCH), Bisphenol A (BPA) and 4-Nonylphenol (4-NP) were derived from acute toxicity data using saltwater species representative of marine ecosystems, including algae, mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms and chordates. Preferably, data concerns sublethal endpoints and early life stages from bioassays conducted in our laboratory, but the data set was completed with a broad literature survey. The Water Quality Criteria (WQC) obtained for TBT (7.1·10−3 μg L−1) and CPY (6.6· 10−3 μg L−1) were orders of magnitude lower than those obtained for PAHs (ranging from 3.75 to 45.2 μg L−1), BPA (27.7 μg L−1), TCS (8.66 μg L−1) and 4-NP (1.52 μg L−1). Critical values for DUR and HCH were 0.1 and 0.057 μg L−1 respectively. Within this context, non-selective toxicants could be quantitatively defined as those showing a maximum variability in toxicity thresholds (TT) of 3 orders of magnitude across the whole range of marine diversity, and a cumulative distribution of the TT fitting to a single log-logistic curve, while for selective toxicants variability was consistently found to span 5 orders of magnitude and the TT distribution showed a bimodal pattern. For the latter, protective WQC must be derived taking into account the SSD of the sensitive taxa only.

I. Durán, R. Beiras, Environmental Pollution, Volume 224, May 2017, Pages 384–391

The article

Freshwater’s macro microplastic problem

Like in the oceans, the bulk of the pollution in rivers and lakes is not in the form of plastic bottles and other large pieces, but tiny pieces called microplastics that would be hard to spot. “Three quarters of what we take out of the Great Lakes are less than a millimeter in size,” she says. “It’s basically the size of a period of a sentence.” These plastics are concerning to scientists because they are being ingested by a variety of aquatic organisms. (…) (pbs.org, 11/05/2017)

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Microplastics as contaminants in commercially important seafood species

The ingestion of microplastic fragments, spheres, and fibers by marine mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, including a number of commercially important species, appears to be a widespread and pervasive phenomenon. Evidence is also growing for direct impacts of microplastic ingestion on physiology, reproductive success and survival of exposed marine organisms, and transfer through food webs, although the ecological implications are not yet known. Concerns also remain over the capacity for microplastics to act as vectors for harmful chemical pollutants, including plastic additives and persistent organic pollutants, although their contribution must be evaluated alongside other known sources. The potential for humans, as top predators, to consume microplastics as contaminants in seafood is very real, and its implications for health need to be considered. An urgent need also exists to extend the geographical scope of studies of microplastic contamination in seafood species to currently underrepresented areas, and to finalize and adopt standardized methods and quality-assurance protocols for the isolation, identification, and quantification of microplastic contaminants from biological tissues. Such developments would enable more robust investigation of spatial and temporal trends, thereby contributing further evidence as a sound basis for regulatory controls. Despite the existence of considerable uncertainties and unknowns, there is already a compelling case for urgent actions to identify, control, and, where possible, eliminate key sources of both primary and secondary microplastics before they reach the marine environment.

D. Santillo, K. Miller, P. Johnston, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Number 3, pp. 516–521, May 2017

The article

Assessment of microplastic-sorbed contaminant bioavailability through analysis of biomarker gene expression in larval zebrafish

Microplastics (MPs) are prevalent in marine ecosystems. Because toxicants (termed here “co-contaminants”) can sorb to MPs, there is potential for MPs to alter co-contaminant bioavailability. Our objective was to demonstrate sorption of two co-contaminants with different physicochemistries [phenanthrene (Phe), log10Kow = 4.57; and 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), log10Kow = 3.67] to MPs; and assess whether co-contaminant bioavailability was increased after MP settlement. Bioavailability was indicated by gene expression in larval zebrafish. Both Phe and EE2 sorbed to MPs, which reduced bioavailability by a maximum of 33% and 48% respectively. Sorption occurred, but was not consistent with predictions based on co-contaminant physicochemistry (Phe having higher log10Kow was expected to have higher sorption). Contaminated MPs settled to the bottom of the exposures did not lead to increased bioavailability of Phe or EE2. Phe was 48% more bioavailable than predicted by a linear sorption model, organism-based measurements therefore contribute unique insight into MP co-contaminant bioavailability.

Victoria A. Sleight, Adil Bakir, Richard C. Thompson, Theodore B. Henry, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 291–297

The article

Occurrence of halogenated flame retardants in commercial seafood species available in European markets

PBDEs (congeners 28, 47, 99, 100, 153, 154, 183, 209), HBCD (α, β, γ), emerging brominated flame retardants (PBEB, HBB and DBDPE), dechloranes (Dec 602, 603, 604, syn- and anti-DP), TBBPA, 2,4,6-TBP and MeO-PBDEs (8 congeners) were analysed in commercial seafood samples from European countries. Levels were similar to literature and above the environmental quality standards (EQS) limit of the Directive 2013/39/EU for PBDEs. Contaminants were found in 90.5% of the seafood samples at n. d.-356 ng/g lw (n. d.-41.1 ng/g ww). DBDPE was not detected and 2,4,6-TBP was detected only in mussels, but at levels comparable to those of PBDEs. Mussel and seabream were the most contaminated species and the Mediterranean Sea (FAO Fishing Area 37) was the most contaminated location. The risk assessment revealed that there was no health risk related to the exposure to brominated flame retardants via seafood consumption. However, a refined risk assessment for BDE-99 is of interest in the future. Moreover, the cooking process concentrated PBDEs and HBB.

Òscar Aznar-Alemany, Laura Trabalón, Silke Jacobs and al., Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 104, June 2017, Pages 35–47

The article

Microplastics are not important for the cycling and bioaccumulation of organic pollutants in the oceans—but should microplastics be considered POPs themselves?

The role of microplastic particles in the cycling and bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is discussed. Five common concepts, sometimes misconceptions, about the role of microplastics are reviewed. While there is ample evidence that microplastics accumulate high concentrations of POPs, this does not result in microplastics being important for the global dispersion of POPs. Similarly, there is scant evidence that microplastics are an important transfer vector of POPs into animals, but possibly for plastic additives (flame retardants). Last, listing microplastics as POPs could help reduce their environmental impact.

R. Lohmann, Integrated Env. Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages 460–465

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