Albert Koelmans

Albert Koelmans
Wageningen University & Research | WUR · Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management

prof.dr.

About

360
Publications
141,899
Reads
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25,550
Citations
Introduction
I am a professor of Water Quality and Aquatic Ecology at Wageningen University. The main feature of my research is the integration of environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, stress ecology and quantitative systems analysis, by combining the strengths of laboratory experimentation, field study and model development. Current research interests are plastic debris, microplastics and nanoplastic in the environment, with a focus on implications for environmental risk and human health.
Additional affiliations
January 1988 - present
Wageningen University & Research
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (360)
Article
Full-text available
The lack of standard approaches in microplastic research limits progress in the abatement of plastic pollution. Here we propose and test rescaling methods that are able to improve the alignment of methods used in microplastic research. We describe a method to correct for the differences in size ranges as used by studies reporting microplastic conce...
Article
Full-text available
Human exposure to microplastic is recognized as a global problem, but the uncertainty, variability, and lifetime accumulation are unresolved. We provide a probabilistic lifetime exposure model for children and adults, which accounts for intake via eight food types and inhalation, intestinal absorption, biliary excretion, and plastic-associated chem...
Chapter
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The concern that in nature, ingestion of microplastic (MP) increases exposure of organisms to plastic-associated chemicals (the 'MP vector effect') plays an important role in the current picture of the risks of microplastic for the environment and human health. An increasing number of studies on this topic have been conducted using a wide variety o...
Article
Microplastic particles are ubiquitous in the environment, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. The key question with respect to these particles is to what extent they cause risks for the environment and human health. There is no risk assessment framework that takes into account the multidimensionality of microplastic particles against the ba...
Article
Full-text available
Determining the risks of microplastics is difficult because data is of variable quality and cannot be compared. Although sediments are important sinks for microplastics, no holistic risk assessment framework is available for this compartment. Here we assess the risks of microplastics in freshwater sediments worldwide, using strict quality criteria...
Article
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There is an urgent need for data on microplastics (MPs) in uptake media relevant to humans. Here we apply Laser Direct Infra-Red (LDIR) spectroscopy for the rapid analysis of MP>10 µm in clean matrices such as bottled drinking water and (deposited) air samples, using strict QA/QC criteria. Nine water bottles of three different brands were found to...
Article
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There is definitive evidence that microplastics, defined as plastic particles less than 5 mm in size, are ubiquitous in the environment and can cause harm to aquatic organisms. These findings have prompted legislators and environmental regulators to seek out strategies for managing risk. However, microplastics are also an incredibly diverse contami...
Article
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The ubiquitous nature of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems may have serious implications for aquatic biota. While microplastic research in freshwater ecosystems is increasing, very few studies have assessed the physical presence of microplastics among top predators. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), a top predator of aquatic ecosystems, is one of...
Article
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Assessing microplastics risk to aquatic ecosystems has been limited by lack of holistic exposure data and poor understanding of biological response thresholds. Here we take advantage of two recent advances, a toxicological meta-analysis that produced biotic response thresholds and a method to quantitatively correct exposure data for sampling method...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic particles (MPs) are ubiquitous across a wide range of aquatic habitats but determining an appropriate level of risk management is hindered by a poor understanding of environmental risk. Here, we introduce a risk management framework for aquatic ecosystems that identifies four critical management thresholds, ranging from low regulatory...
Article
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Throughout the past decade, many studies have reported adverse effects in biota following microplastic exposure. Yet, the field is still emerging as the current understanding of microplastic toxicity is limited. At the same time, recent legislative mandates have required environmental regulators to devise strategies to mitigate microplastic polluti...
Article
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Microplastics have been documented in drinking water, but their effects on human health from ingestion, or the concentrations at which those effects begin to manifest, are not established. Here, we report on the outcome of a virtual expert workshop conducted between October 2020 and October 2021 in which a comprehensive review of mammalian hazard s...
Article
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The fate of (micro)plastic particles in the open ocean is controlled by biological and physical processes. Here, we model the effects of biofouling on the subsurface vertical distribution of spherical, virtual plastic particles with radii of 0.01–1 mm. The biological specifications include the attachment, growth and loss of algae on particles. The...
Preprint
Full-text available
Assessing microplastics risk to aquatic ecosystems has been limited by lack of holistic exposure data and poor understanding of biological response thresholds. Here we take advantage of two recent advances, a toxicological meta-analysis that produced biotic response thresholds and a method to quantitatively correct exposure data for sampling method...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastics are a pervasive pollutant of aquatic ecosystems and are reported to interact with a wide range of aquatic biota. The complexities of natural food webs means that the transfer and accumulation of microplastics is difficult to assess, and only a handful of studies have attempted to quantify trophic transfer in freshwater biota. Bioaccum...
Article
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Ingestion of microplastics by aquatic organisms is often harmful due to the dilution of their regular food with low-calorie microplastic particles, but can also be beneficial if nutritious biofilms are present on the microplastic surface. This begs the question: is ingestion of microplastic harmful or beneficial and can the net effect of the two me...
Presentation
Full-text available
Presentation video: https://youtu.be/ymPMYkcmgDg Microplastics are one of the most diverse and complicated classes of environmental contaminants. The Microplastics contaminant suite includes particles with thousands of unique polymer types, ranging in size from nanometers to millimeters, a continuum of shapes, densities, known and unknown associat...
Preprint
Full-text available
The fate of (micro)plastic particles in the open ocean is controlled by physical and biological processes. Here, we model the effects of biofouling on the subsurface vertical distribution of spherical, virtual plastic particles with radii of 0.01–1 mm. For the physics, four vertical velocity terms are included: advection, wind-driven mixing, tidall...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the multidimensionality of microplastics is essential for a realistic assessment of the risks these particles pose to the environment and human health. Here, we capture size, shape, area, polymer, volume and mass characteristics of >60 000 individual microplastic particles as continuous distributions. Particles originate from samples...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastic particles can be deposited to sediments and subsequently ingested by benthic organisms. It is unknown to what extent ingestion of microplastic is taxon-specific or whether taxa can be selective toward certain types of microplastics. Here, we used state-of-the-art automated micro-Fourier-transform infrared (μFTIR) imaging and attenuated...
Article
Full-text available
Tire wear represents a large source of microplastic entering the aquatic environment, however little is known about its environmental risks. Here, we provide the first assessment of the environmental risks of pollution with tire wear microplastic particles (TWP) and associated organic micropollutants present in road runoff in Europe, in one go. Bes...
Article
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Human exposure to nano- and microplastics (NMPs) has raised major societal concerns, yet no framework to assess the risks of NMPs for human health exists. A substantial proportion of plastic produced worldwide is not properly disposed and persists in the environment for decades while degrading. Plastic degradation generates a size continuum of frag...
Presentation
Full-text available
Microplastics is one of the most diverse and complicated contaminant suites- encompassing 6 orders of magnitude in size (nanometer to millimeter), hundreds of unique polymer types, a continuum of shapes, densities, associated contaminants, and more. Despite there being >200 independent toxicity studies on >150 unique species, many fundamental quest...
Article
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Because of the difficulty of measuring nanoplastics (NP), the use of NPs doped with rare Earth metals has been proposed as a promising approach to detect NP in environmental media and biota. In the present study, the freshwater amphipod Gammarus pulex were exposed to palladium (Pd)-doped NP via natural sediment at six spiking concentrations (0, 0.3...
Article
Full-text available
Over the last several years there has been an increase in studies reporting the presence of microplastic particles (MPs) in both indoor and outdoor air. Data reported reflect a variety of different types of air samples, which have helped to demonstrate the ubiquity of MPs in the atmosphere and their potential contribution to atmospheric particulate...
Article
Full-text available
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental challenges and has received commensurate widespread attention. Although it is a top priority for policymakers and scientists alike, the knowledge required to guide decisions, implement mitigation actions, and assess their outcomes remains inadequate. We argue that an integrated, gl...
Article
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Microplastic debris ending up at the sea surface has become a known major environmental issue. However, how microplastic particles move and when they sink in the ocean remains largely unknown. Here, we model microplastic subject to biofouling (algal growth on a substrate) to estimate sinking timescales and the time to reach the depth where particle...
Article
Full-text available
Most of the global population will live in urban areas in the 21st century. We study impacts of urbanization on future river pollution taking a multi-pollutant approach. We quantify combined point-source inputs of nutrients, microplastics, a chemical (triclosan) and a pathogen (Cryptosporidium) to 10,226 rivers in 2010, 2050 and 2100, and show how...
Presentation
Full-text available
SETAC seminar on risk assessment of microplastics. The presentation addresses the alignment of microplastic exposure and effects data as required for consistent risk characterisation, and addresses the quality assurance required to select data that are reliable and appropriate for that purpose.
Article
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Faecal indicator bacteria (FIB) are used for the assessment of faecal pollution and possible water quality deterioration. There is growing evidence that FIB used in temperate regions are not adequate and reliable to detect faecal pollution in tropical regions. Hence, this study evaluated the adequacy of FIB, including total coliforms (TC), Escheric...
Article
Plastic pollution is one of the major global environmental challenges and is therefore attracting increased societal attention. This has resulted in the adoption of a long array of national and international policies, targeting plastic pollution. Whereas early plastic pollution regulation focused mainly on banning specific plastic products such as...
Article
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A tube-feeding model for administering microplastic (MP, Ø = 30 μm) spheres to fish larvae was employed to quantify the uptake of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) into the larval body through a single administration of MP. Polychlorinated biphenyl-153 (PCB-153) was used as a representative HOC that can be sorbed to MP in the sea. Atlantic he...
Article
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In a recently published article, Leslie and Depledge (2020) raise concerns regarding statements on the risk that microplastic particles represent to human health and which have been attributed to reports published by both the Science Academies’ Group, Science Advice for Policy (SAPEA) (part of the European Commission’s Science Advice Mechanism) and...
Article
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Rivers play an important role in the overall transport of microplastic pollution (1 μm to 5 mm), with fluvial dynamics expected to influence biotic interactions, particularly for fish. So far, there have been few assessments of microplastics in freshwater salmonids. The prevalence (i.e. percentage occurrence) and burden (i.e. abundance per fish) of...
Article
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Communicating scientific evidence to decision makers and other stakeholders is an important task for scientists (SAPEA, 2019a, SAPEA, 2019b; Environmental and Health Risks of Microplastic Pollution, 2019). In this context, and specifically referring to recent evidence reviews on microplastics (SAPEA, 2019b, World Health Organization, 2019). Leslie...
Article
Full-text available
In the literature, there is widespread consensus that methods in plastic research need improvement. Current limitations in quality assurance and harmonization prevent progress in our understanding of what the true effects of microplastic in the environment are. Following the recent development of quality assessment methods for studies reporting con...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the ubiquitous and persistent presence of microplastic (MP) in marine ecosystems, knowledge of its potential harmful ecological effects is low. In this work, we assessed the risk of floating MP (1 μm – 5 mm) to marine ecosystems by comparing ambient concentrations in the global ocean with available ecotoxicity data. The integration of twent...
Article
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Pollution with microplastics has become an environmental concern worldwide. Yet, little information is available on the distribution of microplastics in lakes. Lake Ziway is one of the largest lakes in Ethiopia and is known for its fishing and drinking water supply. This study aims to examine the distribution of plastic particles, of all sizes (mic...
Article
Microplastic contamination is attracting increasing attention worldwide. In this study, the patterns of microplastic contamination in surface water and sediment from 58 sites, and living fish from 31 sites were investigated in a semi-closed bay (Laizhou Bay, China). Microplastics in Laizhou Bay were pervasively distributed, particularly in the form...
Article
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Rivers are exporting increasing amounts of nitrogen (N) to lakes, which is leading to eutrophication. However, the seasonality apparent in nutrient loading, especially in tropical areas, is thus far only partially understood. This study aims to better understand the seasonality and the sources of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) inputs from sub-b...
Article
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Assessment methods on data quality and environmental variability are lacking for microplastics (MP). Here we assess occurrence and variability of MP number concentrations in two Dutch rivers. Strict QA/QC procedures were applied to identify MP using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) microscopy followed by state of the art automated image analysis....
Article
Marine diatoms have been identified among the most abundant taxa of microorganisms associated with plastic waste collected at sea. However, the impact of nano-sized plastic fragments (nanoplastics) at single cell and population level is almost unknown. We exposed the marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi to model polystyrene nanoparticles with carboxyl...
Article
Full-text available
Marine plastic debris floating on the ocean surface is a major environmental problem. However, its distribution in the ocean is poorly mapped, and most of the plastic waste estimated to have entered the ocean from land is unaccounted for. Better understanding of how plastic debris is transported from coastal and marine sources is crucial to quantif...
Article
Full-text available
Given the societal concern about the presence of nano- and microplastics in the environment, our nescience with respect to in situ effects is disturbing. Data on long-term implications under ecologically realistic conditions are particularly important for the risk assessment of nano- and microplastics. Here, we evaluate the long-term (up to 15 mont...
Article
Full-text available
Microplastics (MPs) are considered an emerging issue as environmental pollutants and a potential health threat. This review will focus on recently published data on concentrations in food, possible effects, and monitoring methods. Some data are available on concentrations in seafood (fish, bivalves, and shrimps), water, sugar, salt, and honey, but...
Article
Full-text available
The discovery of microplastic (MP) being present in freshwaters has stimulated research on the impacts of MP on freshwater organisms. To date, research has focused on primary effects, leaving questions with respect to secondary effects at the level of freshwater food webs, unanswered. Here, we use a theoretical modeling approach to investigate the...
Article
Full-text available
This paper identifies knowledge gaps on the sustainability and impacts of plastics and presents some recommendations from an expert group that met at a special seminar organised by the European Commission at the end of 2018. The benefits of plastics in society are unquestionable, but there is an urgent need to better manage their value chain. The r...
Article
This paper identifies knowledge gaps on the sustainability and impacts of plastics and presents some recommendations from an expert group that met at a special seminar organised by the European Commission at the end of 2018. The benefits of plastics in society are unquestionable, but there is an urgent need to better manage their value chain. The r...
Article
Full-text available
Because of their diverse sizes, shapes and densities, environmental microplastics are often perceived as complex. Many studies struggle with this complexity, and either address only a part of this diversity, or present data using discrete classifications for sizes, shapes and densities. We argue that such classifications will never be fully satisfa...
Article
Marine plastic pollution has become a prominent environmental issue in the recent years. Plastic ingestion is of special concern, as its magnitude and consequences for marine organisms and potentially humans are still largely unknown. We reviewed 93 papers on plastic ingestion by wild marine fish published since 1972. Plastic ingestion was detected...
Poster
Full-text available
The distribution of nano- and microplastics (NMP) between environmental media is complex and unknown. However, NMP can be represented via probability distributions of key characteristics such as size, density and attachment efficiency. Consequently, based on first principles, the multi-media model SB4P provides transport and concentrations in and a...
Article
Monitoring parameters for the assessment of oil and gas related contaminants and their biological effects need validation before application in the Arctic. For such monitoring purposes, we evaluated the potential use of three biomarkers (acetylcholinesterase, acyl-CoA oxidase and glutathione S-transferase) for application to an Arctic bivalve (Asta...
Article
The ability to synthesize metal-doped nanoplastic opens windows to accurately assess the potential environmental hazards that nanoplastic poses.
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater systems provide key pathways for microplastic (MP) pollution, and although existing studies have demonstrated the susceptibility of freshwater biota to ingestion, translocation, and trophic transfer, specific challenges pertaining to methodological standardization remain largely unresolved, particularly with respect to isolating, charact...
Article
Nanoplastics are recognized as able to interact with other pollutants including heavy metals, and with natural organic matter, with implications for the potential risks to biota. We investigated the interaction of carboxylated polystyrene nanoparticles (PS–COOH NPs) with copper (Cu) and algal exudates (EPS) and how such interaction could affect Cu...