Environmental and health hazard ranking and assessment of plastic polymers based on chemical composition

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 461, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.
Science of The Total Environment (Impact Factor: 4.1). 06/2011; 409(18):3309-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.04.038
Source: PubMed


Plastics constitute a large material group with a global annual production that has doubled in 15 years (245 million tonnes in 2008). Plastics are present everywhere in society and the environment, especially the marine environment, where large amounts of plastic waste accumulate. The knowledge of human and environmental hazards and risks from chemicals associated with the diversity of plastic products is very limited. Most chemicals used for producing plastic polymers are derived from non-renewable crude oil, and several are hazardous. These may be released during the production, use and disposal of the plastic product. In this study the environmental and health hazards of chemicals used in 55 thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers were identified and compiled. A hazard ranking model was developed for the hazard classes and categories in the EU classification and labelling (CLP) regulation which is based on the UN Globally Harmonized System. The polymers were ranked based on monomer hazard classifications, and initial assessments were made. The polymers that ranked as most hazardous are made of monomers classified as mutagenic and/or carcinogenic (category 1A or 1B). These belong to the polymer families of polyurethanes, polyacrylonitriles, polyvinyl chloride, epoxy resins, and styrenic copolymers. All have a large global annual production (1-37 million tonnes). A considerable number of polymers (31 out of 55) are made of monomers that belong to the two worst of the ranking model's five hazard levels, i.e. levels IV-V. The polymers that are made of level IV monomers and have a large global annual production (1-5 million tonnes) are phenol formaldehyde resins, unsaturated polyesters, polycarbonate, polymethyl methacrylate, and urea-formaldehyde resins. This study has identified hazardous substances used in polymer production for which the risks should be evaluated for decisions on the need for risk reduction measures, substitution, or even phase out.

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    • "This polymer persists for several hundred years in the environment and undergoes to extremely slow depolymerization in marine waters (Andrady, 2003; Innocenti, 2003), thus leading to the formation of micro and nano-debris (Bandyopadhyay and Basak, 2007; Hofer, 2008). Therefore, PS might pose a serious hazard to marine organisms due to the properties of the styrene monomer known as carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor (Lithner et al., 2011). These findings identified PS debris as potential multiple stressor in marine habitats, especially when available for ingestion by marine wildlife. "
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    ABSTRACT: Nano-sized polymers as polystyrene (PS) constitute one of the main challenges for marine ecosystems, since they can distribute along the whole water column affecting planktonic species and consequently disrupting the energy flow of marine ecosystems. Nowadays very little knowledge is available on the impact of nano-sized plastics on marine organisms. Therefore, the present study aims to evaluate the effects of 40nm anionic carboxylated (PS-COOH) and 50nm cationic amino (PS-NH2) polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) on brine shrimp Artemia franciscana larvae. No signs of mortality were observed at 48h of exposure for both PS NPs at naplius stage but several sub-lethal effects were evident. PS-COOH (5-100μg/ml) resulted massively sequestered inside the gut lumen of larvae (48h) probably limiting food intake. Some of them were lately excreted as fecal pellets but not a full release was observed. Likewise, PS-NH2 (5-100µg/ml) accumulated in larvae (48h) but also adsorbed at the surface of sensorial antennules and appendages probably hampering larvae motility. In addition, larvae exposed to PS-NH2 undergo multiple molting events during 48h of exposure compared to controls. The activation of a defense mechanism based on a physiological process able to release toxic cationic NPs (PS-NH2) from the body can be hypothesized. The general observed accumulation of PS NPs within the gut during the 48h of exposure indicates a continuous bioavailability of nano-sized PS for planktonic species as well as a potential transfer along the trophic web. Therefore, nano-sized PS might be able to impair food uptake (feeding), behavior (motility) and physiology (multiple molting) of brine shrimp larvae with consequences not only at organism and population level but on the overall ecosystem based on the key role of zooplankton on marine food webs.
    Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2015.09.021 · 2.76 Impact Factor
    • "These monomers can leach out of the polymeric material and, as some of these are considered toxic (including carcinogenic and mutagenic effects), they can pose a threat to the environment. This effect can be estimated based on the monomer hazard ranking as described by Lithner et al. (2011). Most hazardous polymers belong to the families of polyurethanes, polyvinyl chloride and styrene, amongst others (Lither, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Microplastics are omnipresent in the marine environment and sediments are hypothesized to be major sinks of these plastics. Here, over 100 articles spanning the last 50 year are reviewed with following objectives: (i) to evaluate current microplastic extraction techniques, (ii) to discuss the occurrence and worldwide distribution of microplastics in sediments, and (iii) to make a comprehensive assessment of the possible adverse effects of this type of pollution to marine organisms. Based on this review we propose future research needs and conclude that there is a clear need for a standardized techniques, unified reporting units and more realistic effect assessments. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Marine environmental research 06/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.marenvres.2015.06.007 · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    • "Global nylon-12 shortages in recent years (Advisen, 2013) have afforded new opportunities within the materials field. The hazards associated with the manufacture of these materials are documented (Thiemens and Trogler, 1991) and represent an opportunity for alternative biocatalytic methods (Lithner et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: A Pseudomonas species [Pseudomonas sp. strain amino alkanoate catabolism (AAC)] was identified that has the capacity to use 12-aminododecanoic acid, the constituent building block of homo-nylon-12, as a sole nitrogen source. Growth of Pseudomonas sp. strain AAC could also be supported using a range of additional ω-amino alkanoates. This metabolic function was shown to be most probably dependent upon one or more transaminases (TAs). Fourteen genes encoding putative TAs were identified from the genome of Pseudomonas sp. AAC. Each of the 14 genes was cloned, 11 of which were successfully expressed in Escherichia coli and tested for activity against 12-aminododecanoic acid. In addition, physiological functions were proposed for 9 of the 14 TAs. Of the 14 proteins, activity was demonstrated in 9, and of note, 3 TAs were shown to be able to catalyse the transfer of the ω-amine from 12-aminododecanoic acid to pyruvate. Based on this study, three enzymes have been identified that are promising biocatalysts for the production of nylon and related polymers. © 2015 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.
    Microbial Biotechnology 05/2015; 8(4). DOI:10.1111/1751-7915.12278 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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