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Microplastics in eviscerated flesh and excised organs of dried fish

  • Kian Fara Pars Pharmaceutical Co.

Abstract and Figures

There is a paucity of information about the occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in edible fish tissues. Here, we investigated the potential presence of MPs in the excised organs (viscera and gills) and eviscerated flesh (whole fish excluding the viscera and gills) of four commonly consumed dried fish species (n = 30 per species). The MP chemical composition was then determined using micro-Raman spectroscopy and elemental analysis with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Out of 61 isolated particles, 59.0% were plastic polymers, 21.3% were pigment particles, 6.55% were non-plastic items (i.e. cellulose or actinolite), while 13.1% remained unidentified. The level of heavy metals on MPs or pigment particles were below the detection limit. Surprisingly, in two species, the eviscerated flesh contained higher MP loads than the excised organs, which highlights that evisceration does not necessarily eliminate the risk of MP intake by consumers. Future studies are encouraged to quantify anthropogenic particle loads in edible fish tissues.
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Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
Microplastics in eviscerated esh
and excised organs of dried sh
Ali Karami1, Abolfazl Golieskardi1, Yu Bin Ho1, Vincent Larat3 & Babak Salamatinia2
There is a paucity of information about the occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in edible sh tissues. Here,
we investigated the potential presence of MPs in the excised organs (viscera and gills) and eviscerated
esh (whole sh excluding the viscera and gills) of four commonly consumed dried sh species (n = 30
per species). The MP chemical composition was then determined using micro-Raman spectroscopy and
elemental analysis with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Out of 61 isolated particles, 59.0%
were plastic polymers, 21.3% were pigment particles, 6.55% were non-plastic items (i.e. cellulose or
actinolite), while 13.1% remained unidentied. The level of heavy metals on MPs or pigment particles
were below the detection limit. Surprisingly, in two species, the eviscerated esh contained higher MP
loads than the excised organs, which highlights that evisceration does not necessarily eliminate the risk
of MP intake by consumers. Future studies are encouraged to quantify anthropogenic particle loads in
edible sh tissues.
Worldwide plastic production was estimated to reach 322 million metric tons in 20151 whereby 5 to 13 million
metric tons were reported to be disposed into the marine environment annually2. e plastics dumped in the
environment may never completely degrade3 but instead fragment into smaller particles called microplastics
(MPs), sized between 1 and 1000 µm4. e widespread distribution of MPs in aquatic bodies [e.g.,5, 6] has sub-
sequently contaminated a diverse range of aquatic biota including those sold for human consumption such as
sh7 and mussels8. erefore, seafood products could be a major route of human exposure to MPs. For example,
it was estimated that top European shellsh consumers might take up to 11,000 MPs per annum8. Microplastics
were suggested to exert their harmful eects by providing a medium to facilitate the transport of other toxic
compounds such as heavy metals9 and persistent organic pollutants (POPs)10 to the body of organisms. Upon
ingestion, these chemicals may be released and cause toxicity11.
Dried sh are considered low-cost protein sources in many developing countries12. e purpose of the drying
process is to create a desirable avor and texture and/or to increase the shelf life by reducing the moisture con-
tent13. So far, nothing is known about the occurrence of MPs in dried sh that are intended for direct human con-
sumption. Dried sh are oen processed without any cleaning process, and although evisceration prior to drying
helps to reduce bacterial contamination in sh14, this is not practical to many small sh species such as anchovies.
Subsequently, this could potentially increase the chance of anthropogenic particle exposure to consumers. In
this study, we investigated the potential presence of anthropogenic particles (MP and pigment particles) in the
eviscerated esh and excised organs of Indian mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), spotty-face anchovy (Stolephorus
waitei), greenback mullet (Chelon subviridis), and belanger’s croaker (Johnius belangerii). ese species were cho-
sen since they are oen caught from the coastal waters of many Asian countries as well as in some other parts of
the world1518.
In aquatic organisms, the gills are the rst organ exposed to anthropogenic particles during respiration19, 20,
which increases the possibility that these particles can become stuck among the gill laments. For example, fol-
lowing the exposure to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) fragments, these particles became trapped on the gills
of the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis)21. Laboratory studies have later shown that MPs were able to be translocated
into other tissues of sh22, 23. Most eld studies on sh have investigated the occurrence of MPs in the gastrointes-
tinal tract [e.g.,2426] but little is known about their presence in their edible tissues.
Here, we investigated MP (0.001–1 mm), mesoplastic (1–10 mm), and macroplastic (>10 mm) loads and mor-
phology (fragments, lms, laments, beads, and foams27) in the viscera and gills (hereaer are called excised
1Laboratory of Aquatic Toxicology, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and
Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400, Selangor, Malaysia. 2Discipline of Chemical Engineering, School of
Engineering, Monash University Malaysia, 47500, Selangor, Malaysia. 3HORIBA Jobin Yvon S.A.S., 231, rue de Lille,
59650, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to A.K. (email:
Received: 10 March 2017
Accepted: 5 June 2017
Published: xx xx xxxx
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
organs) and eviscerated esh of 4 dried sh species. All the isolated particles were initially sampled based on their
similar density and morphology to MPs and then analyzed for their chemical composition using micro-Raman
spectroscopy. Finally, to investigate if the extracted MPs contained hazardous inorganic substances, we further
assessed the atomic composition of MP particles using eld emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM)
equipped with an energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). e results of this study will help to understand if
removing viscera and gills could mitigate the intake of anthropogenic particles by consumers.
No particles were found in the procedural blanks. A total of 61 MP-like particles were isolated from the four
dried sh species. As depicted by Fig.1a, 36 particles (59.0%) were conrmed as MPs (i.e. particles conrmed
as plastic polymer or plastic polymer plus pigment), 13 particles (21.3%) as pigments (i.e. particles conrmed as
pigment), 4 particles (6.55%) were non-plastic items (i.e. cellulose or actinolite), and 8 particles (13.1%) remained
unidentied. e most abundant plastic polymers were polypropylene (PP, 47.2%) followed by polyethylene (PE,
41.6%), polystyrene (PS, 5.56%), polyethylene terephthalate (PET, 2.77%), and nylon-6 (NY6, 2.77%) (Fig.1b).
Particles identied as pigments were phthalocyanine (84.6%) and hostasol green (15.3%) (Fig.1c). Figure2 shows
the Raman spectra of a PE particle containing phthalocyanine. Figure3a–f are the microscopic images of some of
the isolated particles. With regards to morphology, the predominant type of anthropogenic particles were frag-
ments (85.7%) followed by lms (10.0%), and laments (4.08%) (Fig.4). No beads or foams were found among
the samples.
Between 0 and 3 pigments and MP particles were isolated from each individual sh. Figure5a and b, present
the frequency histograms of pigment and MP particle numbers across the tested species, respectively. Figure6a
and b are stacked bar charts of the number of extracted pigments and MP particles, respectively, isolated from
the excised organs or the eviscerated esh of each dried sh species. Surprisingly, 29 MPs and 9 pigment particles
Figure 1. Particle compositions. (a) Pie chart of the percentage and chemical composition of the extracted
particles from dried sh samples and their corresponding proportion of (b) plastic polymers, and (c) pigments.
Figure 2. Raman spectrum of a particle identied as polyethylene + phthalocyanine and spectra of the
reference materials.
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
were isolated from the eviscerated esh while 7 MPs and 4 pigment particles were from the excised organs. e
abundance of anthropogenic particles per species ranged from 2 in S. waitei to 24 in C. subviridis. In C. subviridis
and J. belangerii, Mann–Whitney U tests showed that the number of MPs in the eviscerated esh was signicantly
higher than excised organs (Z = 2.43 and Z = 2.21, respectively; p < 0.05). No signicant dierences were,
however, indicated in the number of pigment particles between the eviscerated esh and excised organs. In R.
kanagurta and S. waitei, the number of pigment particles or MP particles was comparable (p > 0.05) between the
eviscerated esh and excised organs.
ere was a signicant dierence in the number of MPs (Kruskal-Wallis, H = 15.7, df = 3, p < 0.01) isolated
from eviscerated esh among the dried sh species. Dunn’s multiple comparison tests found higher MP loads in
the eviscerated esh of C. subviridis and J. belangerii than R. kanagurta and S. waitei. However, the number of
pigment or MP particles in the excised organs was comparable among the sh species. Similarly, no signicant
dierence, however, was noticed in the load of pigment particles extracted from eviscerated esh among the
species. Among the 5 identied plastic polymers, the prevalence of PP (Kruskal-Wallis, H = 8.56, df = 3, p < 0.05)
Figure 3. Isolated particles from dried sh. ese particles were identied using micro-Raman spectroscopy as
(a) Phthalocyanine, (b) Polypropylene + Phthalocyanine, (c) Polyethylene terephthalate, (d) Polyethylene, (e)
Hostasol green, and (f) Actinolite.
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
and PE (Kruskal-Wallis, H = 9.14, df = 3, p < 0.05) were signicantly higher in C. subviridis and J. belangerii than
R. kanagur ta and S. waitei while the concentration of other plastic polymers were comparable among all the tested
species. Elemental analysis of the particles showed that all the anthropogenic particles contained carbon (C) and
oxygen (O) while a few had nitrogen (N), chlorine (Cl) and sodium (Na) as well (Supplementary Information
e ability of MPs to translocate from the digestive systems into other tissues of aquatic organisms22, 23, 28 has
raised concerns about the safety of seafood products. Most of the studies on wild sh have assessed MP loads in
the digestive tract while little has been done to investigate the presence of MPs in the edible sh tissues.
e absence of particles in the procedural blanks ensured the reliability of contamination prevention proce-
dure employed by this study. Approximately one-h (21.3%) of the recovered particles were identied as pig-
ments (phthalocyanine or hostasol green) owing to the strong Raman spectra of these additives. Recent studies
have indicated that additives could complicate the identication of the chemicals within the samples [e.g.,29].
ese synthetic pigments are extensively employed during the manufacturing of dierent materials, including
plastics3033. Initially, we suspected that these particles could be dyes. However, this hypothesis was rejected since
none of the isolated particles shared the main characteristics associated with dyes (i.e. brittleness34). Some earlier
studies inferred that pigment particles were plastics [e.g.,35] while others only suspected these particles to be
Figure 4. Pie chart of the morphology of isolated anthropogenic particles.
Figure 5. Frequency histograms of pigment and microplastic particles in the whole body (eviscerated
esh + excised organs) of tested dried sh species. Frequency histogram of (a) pigment and (b) microplastic
particles in the whole body of Chelon subviridis, Johnius belangerii, Rastrelliger kanagurta, and Stolephorus
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
plastics8, 33. Similar to the approach followed by the latter studies, we ensured that the pigment particles had an
anthropogenic origin, but we could not conrm if they were in fact plastic polymers. One particle isolated from
the excised organs of R. kanagurta was identied as actinolite. Actinolite is one of the 6 naturally occurring min-
eral silicate bers that are referred to as asbestos, which has a wide application such as in textile, plastics, roong,
electrical insulation3638.
Micro-Raman spectroscopy was unable to identify 13.1% of the isolated particles. e spectra of the samples
collected from the eld oen diers with the spectra of pure materials, possibly due to the degradation pro-
cess39. All the isolated particles in this study were sampled according to their similar density (i.e. having density
<1.5 g/cm3) and morphology with MPs. erefore, the unidentied particles are suspected to be MPs. e high
occurrence of fragments in the sh could indicate their dominance in Malaysian coastal environments, which is
consistent with sh caught in other regions of the world23, 40. Coastal areas have oen been reported to be con-
taminated with MPs41, which is due to their vicinity to anthropogenic activities along the coast. e dominance
of fragments in the tested sh in this study could reect their prevalence in the water and sediments of Malaysian
marine ecosystems. Consistent with our ndings, Barasarathi et al.42 showed the dominance of fragments in the
soils of a Malaysian mangrove forest. e absence of bead or foam microparticles in the eviscerated esh or the
excised organs of the tested sh could reect their negligible prevalence in the natural environments.
Polypropylene and PE were the major recovered plastic polymers in the tested species, which is consistent
with their massive production load and demand by various industries1. Consequently, this can lead to their
broad distribution in the marine environment43, 44. Also, the lower density of PP (0.90–0.91 g/cm3) and PE (0.91–
0.96 g/cm3) than seawater would cause them to oat on the water surface. Over time, biofouling by micro- and
macro-organisms have been suggested as a potential mechanism that could cause positively buoyant plastics to
become less buoyant45 and, therefore, led to a more homogeneous distribution throughout the water column.
Surprisingly, in C. subviridis and J. belangerii, the MP load was signicantly higher in the eviscerated esh than
excised organs. Initially, it was hypothesized that the sh might have been contaminated during handling on the
shing vessels or during the salting and drying processes. Interestingly, our recent study have shown the occur-
rence of MPs in most of the tested sea and lake salts produced in dierent countries46. However, this hypothesis
was rejected because the sh were gutted in the laboratory aer rinsing the body surface with water and ethanol
(see Contamination control). Alternatively, the particles found in the eviscerated esh could have been translo-
cated from the alimentary tract. Several laboratory-based studies on sh have shown the translocation of MPs
from the digestive system into other organs. For example, PE and PS particles (sizes: 200–600 µm) translocated
from the stomach to the liver of athead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus)23. In another study on zebrash (Danio
rerio), waterborne exposure to PS microspheres resulted in their accumulation in the gills and liver22. An earlier
study in rats demonstrated the translocation of PS particles from the gut into the lymph47. Uptake through the
layer of Peyer’s Patches from M-cells located within the small intestinal lymphoid tissue is a common route for
the absorption of nano- and micro-particles48. M-cells are the dierentiated epithelial cells with the ability to
transcytosize macromolecules and particles49. Other mechanisms such as persorption might have been involved
in the translocation of particles across the gastrointestinal mucosa50. e higher load of MPs in the eviscerated
esh of C. subviridis and J. belangerii highlights that evisceration does not fully eliminate the risk of MP uptake
by consumers. Moreover, this study showed that quantifying MPs in the viscera may not truly represent their
Figure 6. Stacked bar chart of the isolated particles from the excised organs or the eviscerated esh. (a) e
prevalence (n) of plastic polymer and (b) pigment particles; n = 30.
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
concentrations in the entire organism. Future studies are urged to assess MP loads, in not only the digestive tract,
but also in the edible tissues of the sh. is strategy should better reect the risks associated with the consump-
tion of the sh caught from the natural environment.
In 2014, a total of 17 million tons of dried, smoked, or salted sh were produced for human consumption51.
ere is insucient data, however, regarding the global consumption of dried sh. e species employed in this
study were caught from Malaysian waters. us, consumers in neighboring countries could be exposed to the
similar MP loads. Based on a report on the consumption of sh and sh products in the Asia Pacic region, the
annual dried sh consumption in Bangladesh is 370 g/capita52. Considering the average sh weight (Table1) and
the number of anthropogenic particles (pigment + MP) per individual sh (between 0 and 3), consumers of S.
waitei are expected to ingest between 0 to 246 MPs per annum. Similarly, consumers of C. subviridis (containing
between 0 and 3 anthropogenic particles per sh), J. belangerii (containing between 0 and 3 anthropogenic parti-
cles per sh), or R. kanagurta (0 and 1 MP particles per sh) could ingest 0–68, 0–44, and 0–6 anthropogenic par-
ticles per annum, respectively. However, the majority of the tested sh in this study did not contain MP (Fig.5b).
erefore, it is less likely that an individual would ingest the suggested maximum number of MPs per annum.
Previous studies have shown that MPs adsorb POPs from the surrounding environment53 or contain additives
that were incorporated into them during the manufacturing process54. Subsequently, these chemicals may desorb
from the particles into the body of organisms upon ingestion55. However, recent studies have shown the intake of
POPs by aquatic organisms from water and food exceeded the potential transfer of POPs from ingested MPs56, 57.
According to the results of this study, the undetectable level of toxic heavy metals on the isolated particles does
not support their potential toxicity and the mechanisms whereby MPs cause toxicity are still unclear. erefore,
despite the potential for a maximum of 246 anthropogenic particles to be ingested by a human per year, we cannot
evaluate the health risks associated with the consumption of dried sh at this moment. e increase in plastics
disposal2 coupled with their continuous fragmentation58, is expected to increase MPs concentrations over time.
As such, it will become increasingly important to regularly assess MP loads in seafood products, including dried
Given the fact that dried sh are oen consumed as a whole, they may be responsible for the translocation
of a signicant amount of MPs into the body of consumers. Higher MP loads in the edible tissues than excised
organs of two dried sh species indicates that removing gills and viscera does not necessarily reduce MP uptake
by consumers of dried sh. e results of this study underscores the importance of assessing edible sh tissues for
MP presence and to better understand the ability of MPs to translocate into other organs.
Materials and chemicals. Packed dried C. subviridis, J. belangerii, R. kanagurta, and S. waitei were pur-
chased from local markets in Malaysia (Table1). Sodium iodide (NaI), potassium hydroxide (KOH), and ethanol
95% were purchased from R&M Chemicals (UK). Solutions of NaI (4.4 M) and KOH (10% w/v) were prepared
by dissolving the powder/pellet in ultrapure deionized water. e GF/D microber lter membranes (pore
size 2.7 μm) and lter membranes No. 540 (hardened ashless, pore size 8 μm) were supplied by Whatman. e
149 μm-pore size lter membranes were purchased from Spectrum Laboratories (USA).
Sample preparation. Each sh was placed on pre-cleaned aluminum foil, and the total length and weight
was recorded. An equal number of sh per pack (3–6 packs per species) was used to provide a total number of 30
sh for each species (n = 30). e gill arches were carefully removed by cutting through the bone at the top and
bottom where the gills joined the head. e viscera was removed by cutting the sh beginning at the vent and con-
tinuing to the throat. Gills and viscera (excised organs) were placed together into a 250 mL DURAN laboratory
glass bottle sealed with a premium cap and pouring ring (Schott, Germany). e eviscerated esh (sh without
gills and viscera) was placed into a separate 250 mL laboratory bottle and were subjected to digestion.
Microplastic isolation. Microplastic isolation from the eviscerated esh and excised organs of dried sh
were done according to the method of Karami et al.59. Briey, 200 mL of KOH (10% w/v) was added to each bot-
tle containing either excised organs, or the eviscerated esh, and were incubated at 40 °C for 72 h. e digestate
was then vacuum ltered through a 149 μm lter membrane. To separate the high-density particles (i.e. bone
fragments and scales), the lter membrane was soaked in 10–15 mL of 4.4 M NaI (density: 1.5 g/mL), sonicated
at 50 Hz for 5 min and agitated on an orbital shaker at 200 rpm for 5 min. Eventually, the solution was centrifuged
at 500 × g for 2 min, and the supernatant containing MPs was vacuum ltered through another lter membrane
(pore size 8 μm). is process was repeated once more to ensure complete isolation of MPs.
Visual identication. Microscopical examination of the lter membranes was performed using a Motic
SMZ-140 stereomicroscope (Motic, China). Particles resembling MPs were sampled based on their morphological
Common name Species Total weight (g) Total length (cm)
Greenback mullet Chelon subviridi s 16.3 ± 1.812 12.7 ± 0.4460
Belanger’s croaker Johnius belangerii 25.2 ± 0.381 13.6 ± 0.2160
Indian mackerel Rastrelliger kanagurta 58.5 ± 3.755 18.6 ± 0.2687
Spotty-face anchovy Stolephorus waitei 1.50 ± 0.1568 6.66 ± 0.4440
Table 1. Average total weight and length ± SD of the dried sh used in this study. Number of sh examined per
species (n) = 30.
Scientific RepoRts | 7: 5473 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
characteristics, such as color and shape, as explained by Karami et al.46 Fragments (irregular shape with une-
ven surface), bers/laments (thin and elongated), beads (spherical and ovoid), lms (thin plane of appy), or
foams (lightweight and highly porous). Selected particles were photographed using a camera (AxioCam, ERc 5S,
Germany) coupled with a microscope.
Raman spectroscopy and FESEM-EDX analyses. Particles were analyzed over a range of 150 to
3000 cm1 using a Raman spectrometer (Horiba LabRam HR Evolution) equipped with a Single Mode Open
Beam Laser Diode (Innovative Photonic Solutions) operating at a wavelength of 785 nm coupled with a
charge-coupled device detector (Horiba Synapse). Before the library search, to reduce noise and enhance the
spectrum quality without losing subtle spectral information, each spectrum passed through a baseline correction
and denoising procedure (Labspec 6, Horiba Scientic). Pre-processed spectra were then evaluated and compared
to the following spectral libraries: Raman polymers and monomers from Bio-Rad Sadtler and Raman Forensic
from Horiba using the KnowItAll soware from Bio-Rad. e Correlation algorithm (KnowItAll, Bio-Rad) was
used to evaluate each query spectrum to the spectra of the databases. e Hit Quality Index (HQI) was used to
rank the results of the spectral search. To assess the inorganic composition of isolated MPs, all particles identied
as plastic polymers were examined using a FESEM (Hitachi Ultra-high resolution SU8010) operating at 5 keV and
equipped with an Oxford-Horiba Inca XMax50 energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX; Oxford Instruments Analytical,
High Wycombe, England). e detection limit of the machine was around 1000 pg/µg for most of the heavy
Contamination control. To minimize contamination, cotton lab coat, nitrile gloves were worn at all times.
All the liquids (deionized water, ethanol, KOH, and NaI) were ltered through a GF/D microber lter mem-
brane (pore size 2.7 μm). e glassware and instruments, such as dissecting scissor and forceps, were washed once
with dishwashing liquid, rinsed with deionized water, and nally with ethanol. To remove any potential particles
attached to the sh body surface, the outer part of the sh was rinsed twice with ultrapure deionized water and
once with ethanol. e work surface was pre-cleaned with 70% ethanol every time before dissection. e entire
procedure was carried out in a horizontal laminar ow cabinet (AHC-4A1-ESCO) to avoid potential contamina-
tion with airborne MPs. To monitor and correct potential contamination, one procedural blank with 10% KOH
was tested simultaneously during the isolation procedure, and another procedural blank containing NaI solution
was tested simultaneously during the density separation process.
Statistics. Shapiro–Wilk test was used to assess normality of the data. Upon data transformations, normal
distribution was not achieved. erefore, the Mann–Whitney U test was used to compare pigment or MP particle
loads between the eviscerated esh and excised organs of each sh species. A Kruskal–Wallis test (non-parametric
one-way analysis of variance) was employed to compare the number of extracted pigments or MP particles in the
excised organs or eviscerated esh among the tested species. Also, the concentration of each polymer (PP, PE,
PS, NY6, PET) was compared among the species with a Kruskal–Wallis test. e analysis was followed by using
Dunn’s multiple comparison tests if a signicant dierence (P < 0.05) was obtained. Statistical analyses were per-
formed using SPSS (IBM SPSS Statistics V. 24).
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Author Contributions
A.K. designed and supervised the research, interpreted the results, and wrote the manuscript; A.G. performed
the extraction experiment and co-wrote the manuscript; A.K., Y.B.H., V.L., and B.S. performed micro-Raman
spectroscopy analysis. All authors discussed the results.
Additional Information
Supplementary information accompanies this paper at doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05828-6
Competing Interests: e authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and
institutional aliations.
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... It is estimated that consumers of these animals ingest about 11,000 particles annually [37]. In addition to food of aquatic origin, commercial mineral water showed traces of plastic particles, even in bottled water in glass containers [38], while polypropylene particles have been identified in various brands of table salt [39]. Plastic particles have also been found in fruits, such as apples and pears, and vegetables, such as potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce [40]. ...
... It is estimated that consumers of these animals ingest about 11,000 particles annually [37]. In addition to food of aquatic origin, the commercial mineral water itself showed traces of plastic particles, even bottled water in glass containers [38], while polypropylene particles have been identified in various brands of table salt [39]. Plastic particles have also been found in fruits, such as apples and pears, and vegetables, such as potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce [40]. ...
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Nowadays, a large amount and variety of plastic is being produced and consumed by human beings on an enormous scale. Microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPLs) have become ubiquitous since they can be found in many ecosystem components. Plastic particles can be found in soil, water, and air. The routes of human exposure are numerous, mainly involving ingestion and inhalation. Once ingested, these particles interact with the gastrointestinal tract and digestive fluids. They can adsorb substances such as additives, heavy metals, proteins, or even microorganisms on their surface, which can cause toxicity. During inhalation, they can be inhaled according to their respective sizes. Studies have reported that exposure to MNPLs can cause damage to the respiratory tract, creating problems such as bronchitis, asthma, fibrosis, and pneumothorax. The reports of boards and committees indicate that there is little data published and available on the toxicity of MNPLs as well as the exposure levels in humans. Despite the well-established concept of MNPLs, their characteristics, and presence in the environment, little is known about their real effects on human health and the environment.
... whiting (Micromesistius poutassu), Peruvian anchovies (Engraulis ringens), and lesser sand eels (Ammodytes tobianus) (Salin et al., 2018). However, the increasing plastic pollution in marine water bodies leads to the availability of MPs in marine organisms (Karami et al., 2017). Several studies identified various categories of MPs in these commercial fishmeal-producing species, as shown in Table 1. ...
... Thus, it was thought that removing the GI tract from fish might reduce MP exposure to humans (Toussaint et al., 2019). However, it is reported that removing the GI tract from fish could not completely eliminate the risk of humans' exposure to MPs (Karami et al., 2017). Most bivalves and a few small fish species are eaten− whole, thus, exposing the consumers to MPs (Lusher et al., 2017). ...
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Plastic pollution is a global concern, leading to the abundance of macro-and microplastics (MPs) in the marine environment and subsequent accumulation in many marine organisms, particularly small pelagic and oceanic fish species. These small fishes are usually considered as the non-target catch or by-products of marine capture fisheries. However, these by-catch fishes convert into fishmeal due to their excellent nutritional value, and thereby, it used as the primary ingredient of artificial feeds for aquaculture and livestock animal production. The fishmeal and fish feed facilitates MPs' entry into the aquaculture systems when the MPs−contaminated feeds are supplied to cultured fish for regular feeding. Thus, MPs get access to interact with the elements of the culture pond ecosystem and leading to subsequent alterations in the physiological and behavioral attributes of cultured fishes. Consequently, MPs may accumulate in the edible portions of cultured fishes, which may cause severe physiological disorders in fish consumers. Thus, human exposure to MPs becomes a significant threat to global public health. Therefore, this review discussed the factors associated with MPs' introduction to the aquaculture systems via fishmeal. In addition, this article enlightened the possible consequences of MPs on the pond ecosystem, cultured fish physiology, and consumer health. We hypothesized that the growing concern among people about MPs might be impacted the demand for aquaculture goods. This study recommended taking necessary steps towards improving the MPs' screening process during fish feed production and focusing on more exclusive studies to elucidate the impacts of MPs on sustainable aquaculture production.
... NPs have larger surface areas than MPs do and are more homogenously dispersed in aquatic systems. MPs have been detected in fish tissues (Karami et al., 2017;Markic et al., 2020), seaweed (Li et al., 2020), bottled water (Kankanige and Babel, 2020), and brewed teabags (Hernandez et al., 2019). MPs have several negative effects on the environment and human health (Yan et al., 2020;Zhou et al., 2020;Yin et al., 2018). ...
... More recently, also, the evidence of MPs in commercially important fish and shellfish species raised concerns about possible implications for human consumers (Barboza et al., 2018). Although the presence of MPs in these species was mainly investigated in the gastrointestinal tracts, which are generally not consumed, there is proof that the evisceration does not necessarily eliminate the risk of microplastics intake by humans (Karami et al., 2017). This possibility is certainly greater when organisms are eaten whole (e.g., some mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish; UNEP, 2021) or when MPs are detected in muscle (Abbasi et al., 2018;Akhbarizadeh et al., 2018;Haave et al., 2021). ...
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Microplastics (MPs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) represent a synergic threat for aquatic environments and organisms' health status, with an additional concern over food quality and food security for species of commercial interest. In this study, the ingestion of MPs, levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDs) were assessed in organisms from two lakes of Central Italy, with the aims of exploring the bioavailability of these pollutants in freshwater environments, the possible translocation of MPs from digestive to edible tissues, and the relationship between MPs ingestion and bioaccumulation of BFRs. The fish Perca fluviatilis, Anguilla anguilla, Carassus auratus, and the crayfish Procambarus clarkii, all species commercialized for human consumption, were caught in Trasimeno Lake; moreover, P. fluviatilis and Rutilus rutilus were also sampled in Piediluco, a lake strongly influenced by industrial and anthropogenic activities, where fishing for commercial purpose is forbidden. With the exception of C. auratus which showed the highest frequency of MPs ingestion (75%), species from Piediluco Lake exhibited a more elevated percentage of organisms positive to MPs ingestion (45%) and higher levels of PBDEs and HBCDs (mean values of 343 and 792 pg/g, respectively, in P. fluviatilis; 445 and 677 pg/g, respectively, in R. rutilus) than Trasimeno species (25% frequency of MPs ingestion, mean values between 6 and 163 pg/g for PBDEs and 5-107 pg/g for HBCDs). Polyester fibers dominated among MP typologies, and a high occurrence of man-made natural fibers was recorded. The number of MPs extracted in the gastrointestinal tracts of fish and soft bodies of crayfishes positive to MPs ingestion ranged between 1 and 2, whereas no MPs were found in fish filets. Given these results, the risk related to human consumption of Trasimeno organisms appears very low, whereas further investigations are required to better elucidate the possible role of MPs pollution in modulating chemical bioaccumulation in edible tissues. This study contributed to assess both environmental quality and food safety, reinforcing the use of bioindicator species for monitoring plans, in accordance with European recommendations.
... There has been some discussion that MP contamination in the muscles of fish could be caused in part by procedural contamination [107]. Although there are studies on mechanisms of the entry of MPs into muscle tissue of fish and other organisms [109] [110], this point may need to be revisited. Journal of Water Resource and Protection ...
The presence of microplastics (MPs) in the gastrointestinal tract, muscle, and whole-body samples of common bleak Alburnus alburnus L. from Gruža Reservoir (Central Serbia) was studied for the first time. Different protocols for MPs extraction were applied to determine the most efficient one. The study aimed to modify existing protocols to be cost-effective, efficient in digestion, and with no detrimental effect on potentially present MPs polymers. In this study, the digestion with 10% KOH during 48 h at 40°C was efficient for the gastrointestinal tract and muscle. Digestion with 10% KOH during 72 h at 40°C was the most efficient for whole-body samples. The usage of NaClO proved successful in digestion of the gastrointestinal tract overnight at room temperature. Fibers detected in the samples are assumed to be of plastic origin. The general goal was to establish a protocol for extracting MPs from fish tissue in wild populations to obtain results and determine the degree of pollution.
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Marine snow is a predominant form of sinking particulate carbon in the marine water column and represents a mechanism for transporting microplastics to the sea floor. We present a new dual density separation method employing sodium iodide extraction followed by methanol precipitation, specifically designed for microplastic isolation and identification in natural marine snow samples. A total of 59 microscopic particles from eight marine snow samples collected at Avery Point, CT were confirmed as plastics and/or substances containing typical plastic manufacturing additives. Extraction efficiency of this method was determined using polyethylene microspheres of varying sizes (63–75 μm, 212–250 μm and 500–600 μm) yielding 90%, 93% and 98% recoveries, respectively. Residual organic matter which can cause interference in downstream Raman spectroscopic analyses was eliminated by employing a 15% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) digestion step, which caused negligible chemical modifications to the polymer samples. Extensive precautions such as combusted glassware, a microfiltration air hood, and incorporation of process blank samples ensured that airborne microplastic contamination was avoided. A phase contrast microscope equipped with a Raman spectrophotometer system using a 785 nm laser excitation source efficiently identified anthropogenic polymer materials. Unexpectedly, plastic additives such as pigments complicated the identification of polymers but their spectra were successfully interpreted through spectral subtraction and comparison to a database and authentic standards. The protocol described can be applied to detect microplastic in marine snow samples and improve our understanding of the fate of microplastic in the ocean.
Although plastics are extremely successful commercially, they would never reach acceptable performance standards either in properties or processing without the incorporation of additives. With the inclusion of additives, plastics can be used in a variety of areas competing directly with other materials, but there are still many challenges to overcome. Some additives are severely restricted by legislation, others interfere with each other-in short their effectiveness varies with circumstances. Plastics Additives explains these issues in an alphabetical format making them easily accessible to readers, enabling them to find specific information on a specific topic. Each additive is the subject of one or more articles, providing a suffinct account of each given topic. An international group of experts in additive and polymer science, from many world class companies and institutes, explain the recent rapid changes in additive technology. They cover novel additives (scorch inhibitors, compatibilizers, surface-modified particulates etc.), the established varieties (antioxidants, biocides, antistatic agents, nucleating agents, fillers, fibres, impact modifiers, plasticizers) and many others, the articles also consider environmental concerns, interactions between additives and legislative change. With a quick reference guide and introductory articles that provide the non-specialist and newcomer with relevant information, this reference book is essential reading for anyone concerned with plastics and additives.
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.
Anthropogenic particles (APs), including microplastics, are ingested by a wide variety of marine organisms. Exposure of Clupeiformes (e.g. herrings, anchovies, sardines) is poorly studied despite their economic and ecological importance. This study aims to describe the morphology of the filtration apparatus of three wild-caught Clupeiformes (Sardina pilchardus, Clupea harengus and Engraulis encrasicolus) and to relate the results to ingested APs. Consequently, the species with the more efficient filtration apparatus will be more likely to ingest APs. We hypothesized that sardines were the most exposed species. The filtration area and particle retention threshold were determined in the three species, with sardines displaying the highest filtration area and the closest gill rakers. Sardines ingested more fibers and smaller fragments, confirming that it is the most efficient filtering species. These two results lead to the conclusion that, among the three studied, the sardine is the species most exposed to APs.
Microplastics pollution is widespread in marine ecosystems and a major threat to biodiversity. Nevertheless, our knowledge of the impacts of microplastics in freshwater environments and biota is still very limited. The interaction of microplastics with freshwater organisms and the risks associated with the human consumption of organisms that ingested microplastics remain major knowledge gaps. In this study, we assessed the ingestion of microplastics by Hoplosternum littorale, a common freshwater fish heavily consumed by humans in semi-arid regions of South America. We assessed the abundance and diversity of both plastic debris and other food items found in the gut of fishes caught by local fishermen. We observed that 83% of the fish had plastic debris inside the gut, the highest frequency reported for a fish species so far. Most of the plastic debris (88.6%) recovered from the guts of fish were microplastics (<5 mm), fibres being the most frequent type (46.6%). We observed that fish consumed more microplastics at the urbanized sections of the river, and that the ingestion of microplastics was negatively correlated with the diversity of other food items in the gut of individual fish. Nevertheless, microplastics ingestion appears to have a limited impact on H. littorale, and the consequences of human consumption of this fish were not assessed. Our results suggest freshwater biota are vulnerable to microplastics pollution and that urbanization is a major factor contributing to the pollution of freshwater environments with microplastics. We suggest the gut content of fish could be used as a tool for the qualitative assessment of microplastics pollution in freshwater ecosystems. Further research is needed to determine the processes responsible for the high incidence of microplastics ingestion by H. littorale, and to evaluate the risk posed to humans by the consumption of freshwater fish that ingested microplastics.
So far, several classes of digesting solutions have been employed to extract microplastics (MPs) from biological matrices. However, the performance of digesting solutions across different temperatures has never been systematically investigated. In the first phase of the present study, we measured the efficiency of different oxidative agents (NaClO or H2O2), bases (NaOH or KOH), and acids [HCl or HNO3; concentrated and diluted (5%)] in digesting fish tissues at room temperature (RT, 25 °C), 40, 50, or 60 °C. In the second phase, the treatments that were efficient in digesting the biological materials (> 95%) were evaluated for their compatibility with eight major plastic polymers (assessed through recovery rate, Raman spectroscopy analysis, and morphological changes). Among the tested solutions, NaClO, NaOH, and diluted acids did not result in a satisfactory digestion efficiency at any of the temperatures. The H2O2 treatment at 50 °C efficiently digested the biological materials, although it decreased the recovery rate of nylon-6 (NY6) and nylon-66 (NY66) and altered the colour of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fragments. Similarly, concentrated HCl and HNO3 treatments at RT fully digested the fish tissues, but also fully dissolved NY6 and NY66, and reduced the recovery rate of most or all of the polymers, respectively. Potassium hydroxide solution fully eliminated the biological matrices at all temperatures. However, at 50 and 60 °C, it degraded PET, reduced the recovery rate of PET and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and changed the colour of NY66. According to our results, treating biological materials with a 10% KOH solution and incubating at 40 °C was both time and cost-effective, efficient in digesting biological materials, and had no impact on the integrity of the plastic polymers. Furthermore, coupling this treatment with NaI extraction created a promising protocol to isolate MPs from whole fish samples.