ArticleLiterature Review

Airborne microplastics: Consequences to human health?

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Abstract

Microplastics have recently been detected in atmospheric fallout in Greater Paris. Due to their small size, they can be inhaled and may induce lesions in the respiratory system dependent on individual susceptibility and particle properties. Even though airborne microplastics are a new topic, several observational studies have reported the inhalation of plastic fibers and particles, especially in exposed workers, often coursing with dyspnea caused by airway and interstitial inflammatory responses. Even though environmental concentrations are low, susceptible individuals may be at risk of developing similar lesions. To better understand airborne microplastics risk to human health, this work summarizes current knowledge with the intention of developing awareness and future research in this area.

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... Few studies have documented the existence of MPs in both the indoor and outdoor air (Abbasi et al. 2019;Akhbarizadeh et al. 2021;Cai et al. 2017;Dris et al. 2016;Enyoh et al. 2019;Liu et al. 2019). Synthetic fabrics, abrasion from synthetic rubber tires, erosion, and dust from city and household areas are the most common sources of MPs in the air (Prata 2018;Sol et al. 2022). According to estimates, a single item of clothing might release up to 2000 fibers per wash (Browne et al. 2011). ...
... According to estimates, a single item of clothing might release up to 2000 fibers per wash (Browne et al. 2011). Other major sources of airborne MPs may include construction and waste incineration site, road dust, landfilling area and industrial outflow, particle resuspension, synthetic particles such as polystyrene (PS) peat (used in horticultural soils), sewage sludge (used as a fertilizer), and exhaust from tumble dryer (Dris et al. 2016;Prata 2018). Anthropogenic activities always influence the abundance of MPs in air (Abbasi et al. 2019). ...
... Pollutants like heavy metals (Kumari et al. 2021;Li et al. 2013;Mohanraj et al. 2004) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Akhbarizadeh et al. 2021) are detected in atmospheric particulate matters adsorbed on surface. MPs can also act as a medium to carry pathogens or microorganisms to the lungs and possibly result in an infection to humans (Prata 2018). Adsorbed microbial biofilm on MPs could also be responsible to adsorb and transport heavy metals with it as it is a potential chelating agents for metals . ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous in our environment. Its presence in air, water, and soil makes it a serious threat to living organisms and has become a critical challenge across ecosystems. Present study aimed to assess the abundance of MPs in aerosols and street dust in Varanasi, a typical urban city in Northern India. Airborne particulates and street dust samples were collected from various sampling sites around Varanasi City. The physical identification of MPs was conducted by binocular microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), while elemental analysis was made by energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX). Finally, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used for chemical characterization of MPs. Presence of MPs in both aerosols and street dust from all selected sampling sites was confirmed, however with varying magnitude. MPs of different colors having the shape of fragments, films, spherules, and fibers were recorded in the study while fragments (42%) in street dust and fibers (44%) dominated in aerosols. Majority of the MPs were < 1 mm in size and were primarily polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyester, and polyvinyl chloride types. The EDX spectra showed the presence of toxic inorganic contaminants like metallic elements on MPs, especially elements like aluminum, cadmium, magnesium, sodium, and silicon found to adsorb on the MPs. Presence of MPs in the airborne particulates and street dust in Varanasi is reported for the first time, thus initiating further research and call for a source-specific management plan to reduce its impact on human health and environment.
... Reliance upon observational criteria alone to distinguish between MP and non-MPs, can lead to over and under-estimated MP counts, and a lack of information relating to polymer or additive type (Eriksen et al., 2013;Hidalgo-Ruz et al., 2012). The plausibility of MP inhalation has been highlighted (Prata, 2018;Wright and Kelly, 2017) and MPs with a width as small as 5 μm have been reported within air samples (Wright et al., 2019a;Li et al., 2020). Upon environmental release, plastics are exposed to oxidation, mechanical stress and biological action, resulting in embrittlement and fragmentation, forming MPs, and eventually nanoplastics (NPs) (<1 μm), as well as release into the environment in their primary form (Hidalgo-Ruz et al., 2012). ...
... Historical studies report respiratory symptoms and disease at an occupational level of exposure in synthetic textile, flock, and vinyl chloride workers (Prata, 2018), and as such, support inhalation as an exposure route for MPs. However, it remains unclear whether MPs can enter and remain in the lungs of the general population due to environmental exposure, rather than the chronic levels seen within industry settings. ...
... However, it remains unclear whether MPs can enter and remain in the lungs of the general population due to environmental exposure, rather than the chronic levels seen within industry settings. MPs are designed to be robust materials, unlikely to break down within the lungs (Law et al., 1990), potentially leading to accumulation over time depending on aerodynamic diameter and respiratory defences (Prata, 2018). ...
Article
Airborne microplastics (MPs) have been sampled globally, and their concentration is known to increase in areas of high human population and activity, especially indoors. Respiratory symptoms and disease following exposure to occupational levels of MPs within industry settings have also been reported. It remains to be seen whether MPs from the environment can be inhaled, deposited and accumulated within the human lungs. This study analysed digested human lung tissue samples (n = 13) using μFTIR spectroscopy (size limitation of 3 μm) to detect and characterise any MPs present. In total, 39 MPs were identified within 11 of the 13 lung tissue samples with an average of 1.42 ± 1.50 MP/g of tissue (expressed as 0.69 ± 0.84 MP/g after background subtraction adjustments). The MP levels within tissue samples were significantly higher than those identified within combined procedural/laboratory blanks (n = 9 MPs, with a mean ± SD of 0.53 ± 1.07, p = 0.001). Of the MPs detected, 12 polymer types were identified with polypropylene, PP (23%), polyethylene terephthalate, PET (18%) and resin (15%) the most abundant. MPs (unadjusted) were identified within all regions of the lung categorised as upper (0.80 ± 0.96 MP/g), middle/lingular (0.41 ± 0.37 MP/g), and with significantly higher levels detected in the lower (3.12 ± 1.30 MP/g) region compared with the upper (p = 0.026) and mid (p = 0.038) lung regions. After subtracting blanks, these levels became 0.23 ± 0.28, 0.33 ± 0.37 and 1.65 ± 0.88 MP/g respectively. The study demonstrates the highest level of contamination control and reports unadjusted values alongside different contamination adjustment techniques. These results support inhalation as a route of exposure for environmental MPs, and this characterisation of types and levels can now inform realistic conditions for laboratory exposure experiments, with the aim of determining health impacts.
... MPs and NPs have been reported from ambient air Dris et al., 2017). Still, atmospheric MPs and NPs can be directly inhaled due to their small size and pose human health risks by accumulating in the respiratory tracts and potentially crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) Prata, 2018). ...
... The next study in Hamburg, Germany, reported an average concentration of 275 n/m 2 /day with a size range of 63-5000 μm (Klein and Fischer, 2019). There can be various sources of MPs and NPs in the atmosphere including, synthetic textiles, flock industry (Atis et al., 2005;Prata, 2018), vinyl chloride (VC), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) industries are major sources of atmospheric microplastics (Dris et al., 2017;Dris et al., 2016;Xu et al., 2004), release from solid waste dumping sites, and intensive agricultures (Cai et al., 2017). Further, sea breeze and sea spray can also be an important source of MPs' nearer to coastal areas. ...
... However, some other studies suspected the possibility of NPs can permeate human skin (Revel et al., 2018;Sykes et al., 2014). Further, a possibility of MPs of exposure from air fallout as a cutaneous exposure through deposition on the skin was reported earlier (Prata, 2018;Wright and Kelly, 2017). As a consequence of various tissues, the total number of microplastics on the skin was 800 pieces (Prata, 2018;Wright and Kelly, 2017). ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are emerging environmental pollutants, having a major ecotoxico-logical concern to humans and many other biotas, especially aquatic animals. The physical and chemical compositions of MPs majorly determine their ecotoxicological risks. However, comprehensive knowledge about the exposure routes and toxic effects of MPs/NPs on animals and human health is not fully known. Here this review focuses on the potential exposure routes, human health impacts, and toxicity response of MPs/NPs on human health, through reviewing the literature on studies conducted in different in vitro and in vivo experiments on organisms, human cells, and the human experimental exposure models. The current literature review has highlighted ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contacts as major exposure routes of MPs/NPs. Further, oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, DNA damage, inflammation, immune response, neurotoxicity, metabolic disruption, and ultimately affecting digestive systems, immunology, respiratory systems, reproductive systems, and nervous systems, as serious health consequences.
... In another study in Paris, the concentration of fibers in settled dust ranged from 190 to 670 fibers/mg. Also, outdoor fiber concentrations were significantly lower than indoor air (Prata, 2018) that can be due to the possible movement of outdoor MPs into the buildings because of wind and air movement. The presence of MP fibers in indoor dust is very important as after creation by the wear and tear of natural and synthetic fibers, they can be inhaled and enter the upper respiratory tract (Hale, 2018;Prata, 2018). ...
... Also, outdoor fiber concentrations were significantly lower than indoor air (Prata, 2018) that can be due to the possible movement of outdoor MPs into the buildings because of wind and air movement. The presence of MP fibers in indoor dust is very important as after creation by the wear and tear of natural and synthetic fibers, they can be inhaled and enter the upper respiratory tract (Hale, 2018;Prata, 2018). ...
... PE, polyester, and nylon are applied in carpet manufacturing (Hari, 2020). Therefore, furniture, furnishing, clothing, and household are the sources of MPs in indoor that should be considered (Prata, 2018). ...
Article
The increase in annual usage of plastics for different purposes has led to an increase in microplastics (MPs) particles in various environments including inside of buildings. In the present study, levels and characteristics of MPs in the indoor dust of buildings with different uses including residential house, mosque, hospital, kindergarten, and university in two cities, Bushehr port and Shiraz in Iran, were determined. Thirty dust samples from various buildings were collected. The average numbers of MPs in the indoor dust of buildings of Shiraz and Bushehr were 90.8 and 80.8 items/mg, respectively. Fiber and polyethylene (PE) were the most common shape and polymer types of identified MPs, respectively. The highest number of MPs was observed in the indoor dust of kindergartens with a mean number of 121 items/mg in Bushehr and 104 items/mg in Shiraz. Except for mosques, a significant difference (p-value <0.05) were not observed between the MPs levels of buildings with similar applications in Bushehr and Shiraz cities. In addition, the high daily intake to MPs via indoor dust ingestion and inhalation were found for infants in kindergartens and mosques. The results of this study showed that MPs are present in high concentrations in indoor environments and may pose a high exposure risk for different age groups.
... Plastic is not only absorbed by food through the digestive tract [53]. It can also be inhaled through fine air dust (e.g., abrasion from car tires or clothing [54,55] and release chemical additives [56] once within the body [57]). Occupational diseases associated with textiles have been extensively reviewed [54]. ...
... It can also be inhaled through fine air dust (e.g., abrasion from car tires or clothing [54,55] and release chemical additives [56] once within the body [57]). Occupational diseases associated with textiles have been extensively reviewed [54]. Fragments and fibers are the most common forms of atmospheric MP and NP. ...
... Clearance of inhaled particles can be through mucociliary transport resulting in negligible deposition in airways or phagocytosis by alveolar macrophages or lymphatic transport [54]. MP and NP may avoid these mechanisms, accumulating in the lungs and entering systemic circulation [27,58,59]. ...
Article
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The ubiquitous nature of micro- (MP) and nanoplastics (NP) is a growing environmental concern. However, their potential impact on human health remains unknown. Research increasingly focused on using rodent models to understand the effects of exposure to individual plastic polymers. In vivo data showed critical exposure effects depending on particle size, polymer, shape, charge, concentration, and exposure routes. Those effects included local inflammation, oxidative stress, and metabolic disruption, leading to gastrointestinal toxicity, hepatotoxicity, reproduction disorders, and neurotoxic effects. This review distillates the current knowledge regarding rodent models exposed to MP and NP with different experimental designs assessing biodistribution, bioaccumulation, and biological responses. Rodents exposed to MP and NP showed particle accumulation in several tissues. Critical responses included local inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to microbiota dysbiosis, metabolic, hepatic, and reproductive disorders, and diseases exacerbation. Most studies used MP and NP commercially provided and doses higher than found in environmental exposure. Hence, standardized sampling techniques and improved characterization of environmental MP and NP are needed and may help in toxicity assessments of relevant particle mixtures, filling knowledge gaps in the literature.
... Industrial emissions are another sources which released into the ecosphere by MPs stemming (Boucher and Friot, 2017), landfilling, resuspension of particles, the formation of building activities, littering, traffic, urban infrastructure are the anthropogenic causes (Leitão and Hursthouse, 2016). Moreover, the population strength also emits fibrous smallest plastics into the ecological section by textiles worn (Prata, 2018). Alternatively, a potential major point of entry for macro and tinny plastics into the ecosystems is urban water ecosystems (Prata et al., 2018). ...
... Moreover, the population strength also emits fibrous smallest plastics into the ecological section by textiles worn (Prata, 2018). Alternatively, a potential major point of entry for macro and tinny plastics into the ecosystems is urban water ecosystems (Prata et al., 2018). The disposal of influent from industries and effluent from treatment plants has potential contribution sources for MPs in this perspective (Eerkes-Medrano et al., 2015). ...
... Indoor environment is a potential source of MPs. It poses high risk to humans (Prata, 2018), because in a modern world, 90% of people in the urban region are living a sedentary lifestyle and spend a large span of their time remained indoors (Lucattini et al., 2018). Since industrialization, the design of houses and buildings have advanced massively. ...
... These MPs are released from the utilization of such products, whereas the secondary MPs are released from the degradation of large plastic particles because of photochemical, chemical, and mechanical processes (Galafassi et al., 2019). In the recent past, research studies by Prata et al. (2018), Catarino et al. (2018), Liu et al. (2019a, b), Cox et al. (2019, Zhang et al. (2020a, b), andSoltani et al. (2021) studied the household dust as potential source of microplastics. These studies have reported indoor environment as a potential exposure pathway for humans. ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs) pollution is an emerging global environmental concern. Considering the high fraction of time people spend indoors, the human population can be directly exposed to this contamination through indoor dust. This preliminary study evaluates MPs’ abundance and human health risk assessment in the deposited indoor dust. A total of forty dust samples (n=20) were collected from homes in two different cities (Pakistan) in steel mesh pouches using the vacuum cleaner. The identifcation and quantifcation of MPs were conducted with a stereo microscope, whereas the qualitative assessment was performed with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The US EPA parameters to calculate the human health risk assessment were used to determine MPs’ risk per day/month/year. Overall, microfbers were the dominant category, followed by microflms, micro-fragments, and nurdles. The chemical categorization of MPs was revealed as polyester, polyethylene, copolymers of polypropylene, and polyurethane. In Lahore, an average abundance of 241.45 (items/m2) MPs were observed compared to Sahiwal, with 162.1 (items/m2). More than 90% of the identifed MPs were microfbers, with higher detection frequency and abundance in Lahore than Sahiwal. The human health risk assessment revealed high exposure risk because of indoor MPs. Moreover, toddlers were more vulnerable as compared to adults at both low and high exposure risk scenarios. There is an imminent need to conduct in-depth risk assessment focusing on the respirable fraction of MPs.
... Dermal contact represents the less significant exposure pathway and absorption across intact skin is unlikely because of the protective function of the corneum layer [33]. However, skin lesions might facilitate the penetration of small particles, or through catheters or syringes [34,35]. Airborne exposure represents an important pathway for MPs [36]. ...
... Airborne exposure represents an important pathway for MPs [36]. As demonstrated for other particles, they can reach bronchial lung tissues by inhalation leading to inflammation events [34,37]. ...
Article
A narrative review was carried out to describe the current knowledge related to the occurrence of MPs in drinking water. The reviewed studies (n = 21) showed the presence of microplastics (MPs) in tap (TW) and bottled (BW) water, increasing concerns for public health due to the possible toxicity associated with their polymeric composition, additives, and other compounds or microorganism adsorbed on their surface. The MP concentration increase by decreasing particles size and was higher in BW than in TW. Among BW, reusable PET and glass bottles showed a higher MP contamination than other packages. The lower MP abundance in TW than in natural sources indicates a high removal rate of MPs in drinking water treatment plants. This evidence should encourage the consumers to drink TW instead of BW, in order to limit their exposure to MPS and produce less plastic waste. The high variability in the results makes it difficult to compare the findings of different studies and build up a general hypothesis on human health risk. A globally shared protocol is needed to harmonize results also in view of the monitoring plans for the emerging contaminants, including MPs, introduced by the new European regulation.
... MPs were reported to cause systemic or local immune responses after exposure, based on their dispersion and human reaction. Environmental exposure to MPs, on the other hand, was enough to impair immune systems in biologically vulnerable individuals, resulting in autoimmune disorders or immunosuppression (Table 1) (Prata, 2018;Prata et al., 2020). According to Farhat et al. (2011), chronic damage in cells, the production of immune modulators, and the incorrect stimulation of immune cells may all contribute to MP-induced autoimmune disorders. ...
... Nevertheless, no conclusive proof has been established until now. According to Prata (2018), prolonged inflammation and irritation caused by MPs consumption may induce cancer by causing DNA damage ( Table 1). According to Chang (2010), oxidative stress and persistent irritation generated by nano plastics revealed evidence of pro-inflammatory agents, which stimulated vasculature, that led to the creation and development of cancers. ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs) are regarded as a global issue due to their toxicity effects on fish and humans. Fish is a vital origin of human protein, which is necessary for body growth. Contamination of fish by MPs is a major hazard that requires special focus. After exposure to MPs alone or in combination with other pollutants, fish may experience a variety of health issues. MPs can cause tissue damage, oxidative stress, and changes in immune-related gene expression as well as antioxidant status in fish. After being exposed to MPs, fish suffer from neurotoxicity, growth retardation, and behavioral abnormalities. The consequences of MPs on human health are poorly understood. Due to the abundance of MPs in environment, exposure may occur via consumption, inhalation, and skin contact. Humans may experience oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, neurotoxicity, immune system disruption, and transfer of MPs to other tissues after being exposed to them. The toxic effects of MPs in both fish and human are still unknown. This detailed review has the potential to add to existing knowledge about the ecotoxicity effects of MPs in both fish and humans, which will be useful for the forthcoming study.
... Microplastics were easily dispersed by wind and might stay for a long period in the atmosphere, transferring it to remote places (Trainic et al., 2020). The climatic parameters, including wind, precipitation, temperature, are dependent factors for microplastic distribution in atmospheric environment (Prata, 2018). After being discharged into the air, microplastics are conveyed and settle in terrestrial and marine environments. ...
... According to Dris et al. (2017), the amount of microplastics in indoor air (1 -60 fibres m -3 ) was substantially greater than in outside air (0.3 -1.5 fibres m -3 ). This is because microplastics are typically formed by mechanical wear or degradation of textile apparel and bedding such as pillows, blankets, and curtains due to closed or semi-closed compartments, as explained by (Prata, 2018). In Denmark, Vianello et al. (2019) observed the presence of airborne microplastics in three-flats and found that PE, polyester, polyamide (PA), and PP were the most prevalent types. ...
Chapter
Microplastics in the environment pose a significant threat to the entire ecosystem. Household activity, industrial activity, tyre wear and tear, construction, incineration, plastic litter, landfill, and agricultural activities are the major sources of microplastics in the environment. Microplastics can freely float and adapt between different environmental mediums in the ecosystem due to their lightweight and low-density characteristics. Eventually, microplastics entering the ocean from different pathways result in accumulation and widespread distribution in the marine environment. The frequent interaction between microplastic and aquatic environments accumulates the microplastics in live organisms. The microplastic accumulation and exposure to animals and humans will also affect the ecosystem. This chapter seeks to understand the sources, pathways, and abundance of microplastics in a different environment. The study also highlights the future research prospects for mitigation of plastic towards environment protection.
... MPs and NPs also pose health risks for humans. MPs and NPs are taken up through inhalation, ingestion and via skin contact (Leslie, 2014;Gasperi et al., 2018;Pivokonsky et al., 2018;Prata, 2018;Hantoro et al., 2019;Koelmans et al., 2019;Toussaint et al., 2019;Vianello et al., 2019;Campanale et al., 2020b;Danopoulos et al., 2020;Prata et al., 2020;Rahman et al., 2021;Senathirajah et al., 2021;Vethaak and Legler, 2021), and these plastic particles have been found in the human lung (Pauly et al., 1998;Vianello et al., 2019), intestine (Schwabl et al., 2019) and placenta (Ragusa et al., 2021). Recently, NPs have been shown to be transmitted to offspring of NP-exposed zebrafish mothers (Wang et al., 2019a), suggesting that MPs and NPs have an impact on the health of multiple generations of animals and potentially humans (Pitt et al., 2018;Ragusa et al., 2021). ...
Article
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Biologically active environmental pollutants have significant impact on ecosystems, wildlife, and human health. Microplastic (MP) and nanoplastic (NP) particles are pollutants that are present in the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at virtually every level of the food chain. Moreover, recently, airborne microplastic particles have been shown to reach and potentially damage respiratory systems. Microplastics and nanoplastics have been shown to cause increased oxidative stress, inflammation, altered metabolism leading to cellular damage, which ultimately affects tissue and organismal homeostasis in numerous animal species and human cells. However, the full impact of these plastic particles on living organisms is not completely understood. The ability of MPs/NPs to carry contaminants, toxic chemicals, pesticides, and bioactive compounds, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, present an additional risk to animal and human health. This review will discusses the current knowledge on pathways by which microplastic and nanoplastic particles impact reproduction and reproductive behaviors from the level of the whole organism down to plastics-induced cellular defects, while also identifying gaps in current knowledge regarding mechanisms of action. Furthermore, we suggest that the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides an advantageous high-throughput model system for determining the effect of plastic particles on animal reproduction, using reproductive behavioral end points and cellular readouts.
... MNPs in their minute (micro-and nano-) sizes have accumulated in aquatic animals [207,209,[211][212][213][214][215][216][217], causing an impactful change in their biological functions including interference with cell-cell interactions which is essential for proliferation of developing B cells as well as potentially dysregulating their maturation process [217], induced hepatic glycolipid metabolism disorder at the physiological, biochemical and transcriptomic levels [218], and increased oxygen consumption and respiration rate [219]. More so, Mazurais et al. [209] reported that polyethylene ( Humans are potentially exposed to these micro-/nanoplastics through different routes of entry including inhalation, dermal, and ingestion (oral) [9,[222][223][224][225]. There are several reports of micro-/nanoplastics detection and associated effects on human health. ...
Article
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The prevalence of micro and nanoplastics (MNPs) across the various environments and their negative impact on ecosystems have become a serious global threat and are currently a subject of many environmental concerns. Studies have provided evidence that MNPs have the potential to leach toxic plastic chemical additives and can adsorb a variety of persistent organic environmental pollutants, thereby enhancing their bioavailability, toxicity, and dispersion. Moreover, these MNPs easily penetrate the food chain and might cause health problems when ingested by humans and other organisms. Currently, there is complexity in understanding the mechanisms by which these toxic chemicals adsorb/desorb onto/from MNPs, and the physical and biological impacts of these chemical additives. To date, there is a considerable lack of knowledge on the major chemical additives of concern used in the plastic industry, their fate once MNPs dispose into the environment, the factors that affect their degradation, and their consequent impacts on human health. This review critically analyzes the current knowledge concerning the physical, chemical, and biological impacts of MNPs, and the various chemical and organic pollutants associated with MNPs. Emphasis was laid on their types, occurrence, fate, and distribution in the environment. The different techniques used in their identification, characterization, and removal were also elucidated. Furthermore, the consequent harmful effects of MNPs on human health were discussed to spur more future studies and fill knowledge gaps in this area.
... Owing to the characteristics of climate drought in Shihezi City, the use of a dust-proof net in the early stage of green-belt soil development led to fiber pollution ). In addition, the erosion of synthetic textiles and synthetic rubber (Prata 2018) and atmospheric deposition are other important sources (Dris et al. 2016). In 2014, the global synthetic fiber output reached 65.2 million metric tons with the highest proportion being from Asia (52.5 million metric tons) (Chemical et al. 2015). ...
Article
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The problems are associated with microplastic (MP) pollution of global concern. However, little is known about the pollution characteristics and sources of MPs in urban green-belt soils. Therefore, this study investigated MP pollution in 11 sampling sites (22 green belts) in Shihezi City. The results showed that the abundance of MPs (0.02–5.00 mm) ranged from 287 ± 100 items/kg dw to 3227 ± 155 items/kg dw (mean + SD). Fibers (69.9%) accounted for the majority of MPs, and the MPs were mainly black (36.7%) and 0.02–0.5 mm (64.8%). The main types of MPs were polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE). Compared with agricultural soil, the color and composition of green-belt soil MPs are diverse, which means that the source of green-belt soil MPs is more diverse. In different types of green-belt soil, MP pollution of industrial green land is more serious. Through cluster analysis and spatial distribution, fragments and fibers were found to have similar sources, mainly originating from food and textile industrial activities. This study provides important information for revealing MP pollutions in urban green-belt soils.
... Plastic pollution and associated ecological impacts in the aquatic environment have become one of the most prominent environmental issues in the 21st century (Stabnikova et al., 2021). As a result of increased manufacturing, inefficient dumping, uncontrolled and widespread usage, and enormously slow natural biodegradation in the environment, plastics have expanded dramatically in the environment over the last few decades (Prata, 2018). They have reached at an alarming level, affecting every habitat from each part of the world (Horton et al., 2017;Lagana et al., 2019;Rummel et al., 2017). ...
Article
Microplastic pollution and associated impacts in the aquatic environment are spreading at an alarming rate around the world. Plastic waste is increasing in the environment, and microplastics (MPs) are becoming a growing issue because they serve as vectors for pathogen transmission. This is the first comprehensive assessment that specifically addresses MPs as a source and vector of pathogenic bacteria mainly associated with Vibrio, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, and so on, which are discovered to be more abundant on the aquatic plastisphere than that in the surrounding wastewater, freshwater, and marine water ecosystems. The horizontal gene transfer, chemotaxis, and co–selection and cross-selection could be the potential mechanism involved in the enrichment and dissemination of bacterial pathogens through the aquatic plastisphere. Further, bacterial pathogens through aquatic plastisphere can cause various ecological and human health impacts such as disrupted food chain, oxidative stress, tissue damages, disease transmission, microbial dysbiosis, metabolic disorders, among others. Last but not least, future research directions are also described to find answers to the challenging questions about bacterial pathogens in the aquatic plastisphere to ensure the integrity and safety of ecological and human health.
... However, there is still little certainty about the transfer of and risk posed by MPs to humans through diet [70]. Some studies suggest limited health risks of seafood to humans [76], proposing minimal MP uptake through seafood consumption compared to other sources of exposure, such as dust [77], plastic-packaged food [70], or airborne MPs [77]. Nevertheless, the presence of hazard components in widely consumed species, such as the hake, whiting, and shrimps analyzed here, together with their great popularity among consumers (0.94 and 1.51 kg/pers/year for hake and shrimps respectively, ECHA. ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs) are increasing in the marine environment as well as inside marine organisms, having an important effect on biological diversity. The trophic transfer of MPs was demonstrated under laboratory conditions, but this study is based on the analysis of preys found in stomach contents. MPs from Merluccius merluccius individuals caught in the Cantabrian Sea and preys inside their guts (blue whiting, and northern krill inside blue whiting) were analyzed. MPs with different chemical composition occurred inside every hake and their preys, with different damages, from aquatic life hazards with long lasting effects, to allergic skin reactions and respiratory irritation, not only for aquatic species and fishing resources, but also for humans through hake consumption. The similarity of MPs profiles from gills and seawater samples would support seawater as the main source of gill microplastics. The MPs profile of hake GIT was similar to that of hake preys inside. Despite the small sample size, the presence of MPs in all the tissues analyzed of hakes and their preys, together with the evidence of hazard compositions of some of them, highlights the need for policies and actions to reduce plastic and microplastic production and consumption.
... There is emerging research on the health effects of microplastics on humans. So far, it is known that microplastics, due to its small size, can lodge in the epithelial lung tissue, resulting in respiratory diseases (Prata 2018;Prata et al. 2020). Larger particulates, such as heavy metals, may also be lodged in the upper respiratory tract, causing damage to the lungs. ...
Article
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Plastics are increasingly being used in consumer products due to its versatility in many applications. However, these plastics may contain inorganic elements that may be harmful to humans. To determine any potential health risk of plastics, it was important to characterize elemental composition of plastics and assess usage patterns. To investigate plastic usage in a typical Jamaican household and to characterize the inorganic elements in consumer plastics using XRF analyzer. About 200 questionnaires were distributed to households to determine the types and quantity of plastics. A total of 130 plastic samples from 7 categories were collected and measured for inorganic elements using handheld XRF. Household plastics were mainly used for storage and personal hygiene products. On average, 10% of plastics were recycled, while 30% were burned. Inorganic elements present in plastic samples were Cl > Ti > Ba > Fe > Zn > Sb > Cr > Br > Cu > V > Pb > As. Elemental concentrations varied based on the category of plastics. Green plastics had the highest concentrations of each type of elements. This study provided useful information on characterizing the different types of elements present in common household plastics. Results from the survey were used to assess participants’ attitude and behaviors towards plastics usage and disposal. It was important to obtain a profile of plastics waste from a typical household. This will allow for more targeted strategies to reduce plastics pollution.
... Additives found in microplastics, such as bisphenol A, are also endocrine disruptors that hinder proper development and have adverse reproductive effects [87]. Microplastic particles can also be inhaled, accumulating in lung tissue and causing cytotoxic effects in pulmonary cells, resulting in bronchial inflammation, fibrosis, allergic reactions, and interalveolar lesions [88]. Human exposure to airborne microplastics is estimated at 272 particles per day and is influenced by the material's nature, the performed activity, the quality of ventilation, and the particular season [89]. ...
Article
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Plastics have become an essential part of the modern world thanks to their appealing physical and chemical properties as well as their low production cost. The most common type of polymers used for plastic account for 90% of the total production and are made from petroleum-based nonrenewable resources. Concerns over the sustainability of the current production model and the environmental implications of traditional plastics have fueled the demand for greener formulations and alternatives. In the last decade, new plastics manufactured from renewable sources and biological processes have emerged from research and have been established as a commercially viable solution with less adverse effects. Nevertheless, economic and legislative challenges for biobased plastics hinder their widespread implementation. This review summarizes the history of plastics over the last century, including the most relevant bioplastics and production methods, the environmental impact and mitigation of the adverse effects of conventional and emerging plastics, and the regulatory landscape that renewable and recyclable bioplastics face to reach a sustainable future.
... Even particles low in toxicity can lead to disease in susceptible individuals, especially when removal mechanisms are impaired, and this may be caused by interconnected mechanisms, namely dust overload and cytotoxicity, which may ultimately be the origin of malignant lesions (Prata 2018). Dust overload, the buildup of dust in the lung leading to impaired clearance, is a mechanism proposed to explain the effects of inert particles in the respiratory system (Tran et al. 2000). ...
Article
Tire wear microplastic particles (TWMPs) are emerging microplastic pollutants that have gained increasing attention lately. However, the health effect of inhaled airborne TWMPs has never been explored before and may already be included in particulate matter morbidity and mortality. Here, we endeavored to address the preliminary study of TWMP inhalation-induced pulmonary toxic effects and its epigenetic mechanisms in C57BL/6 mice. As a result, restricted ventilatory dysfunction and fibrotic pathological changes were observed in TWMP-treaded mice. Further research found that attenuation of miR-1a-3p plays an important role in TWMP-induced lung injury. Results from in vitro study confirmed that cytoskeleton regulatory gene twinfilin-1 was one of the target genes of miR-1a-3p, and involved in cytoskeleton rearrangement caused by TWMP exposure. Mechanistically, miR-1a-3p inhibited the F-actin formation by targeting cytoskeletal regulatory proteins twinfilin-1, leading to TWMP-induced pulmonary fibrotic injury. While we are in the very early stages of explaining the role of epigenetics in TWMP-induced lung injury, the potential for the use of epigenetic marks as biomarkers is high and discoveries made in this field will likely bring us closer to better understanding this crucial mechanism.
... Several studies have examined the removal efficiency of microplastics and some review studies also carried on the compare the removal rates of microplastics (Ziajahromi et al., 2016a;Ziajahromi et al., 2016b;Prata, 2018). Based on these studies, the removal rates of wastewater treatment plants vary between 40% and 99.9% (Talvitie et al., 2017;Gies et al., 2018, Hidayaturrahman andLee, 2019). ...
Article
There are several studies stating that many types of microplastics cannot be retained completely by conventional wastewater treatment systems. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent discharge of these microplastics to the ecological system. The objective of this study was to investigate the biodegradation ability of two different size of PE (50 and 150 µm) by using two Gram-positive, spore-forming, rod-shaped, and motile thermophilic bacteria, called strain Gecek4 and strain ST5, which can hydrolyze starch, were isolated from the soil's samples of Gecek and Ömer hot-springs in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey, respectively. Phenotypic features and 16S rRNA analyzing of strains also studied. According to these results, Gecek4s and ST5 identified as Anoxybacillus flavithermus Gecek4s and Bacillus firmus ST5, respectively. Results showed that A. flavithermus Gecek4s can colonize the polymer surface and cause surface damage whereas B. firmus ST5 could not degrade bigger-sized particles efficiently. Moreover, morphological changes on microplastic surface were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) where dimensional changes, irregularities, crack, and/or holes were detected. This finding suggests that there is a high potential to develop an effective integrated method for plastic bags degradation by extracellular enzymes from bacteria.
... Furthermore, emerging studies concerning thermoplastic polymers in air detected microplastics (MP) also in the atmosphere and underline their ubiquity in the environment (Bergmann et al., 2019;Dris et al., 2015;Kernchen et al., 2021;Prata et al., 2021a;Wright et al., 2020). In particular, respirable size ranges (<10 μm) are of direct relevance for human health (Aguilera et al., 2021;Kernchen et al., 2021;Prata, 2018). Common sampling approaches are active pumping systems in regular routine monitoring, and the use of passive sampling in air quality assessment. ...
Article
Studies concerning quantities of microplastics (MP) including tire wear particles (TWP) contamination in air samples are scarce. Spider webs have been suggested as a cheap and easily accessible biomonitor particularly for inorganic contaminates. Here, we emphasize the potential of spider webs to gain insights in the spatial and temporal trends of MP in urban air. The samples, collected in a mid-sized German city, were processed with Fentons reagent and measured using pyrolysis-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for specific, polymer related indicator compounds. All samples contained TWP and other MP. The latter are detected and quantified as pyrolysis products of a polymer backbone. The results were expressed as clusters (prefix “C”). Determined polymer contaminations ranged from 11.4 μg/mg to 108 μg/mg spider web sample. The dominant polymer was C-PET (Ø 36.0% of total MP) derived most likely from textile fibers. Additionally, there was evidence for traffic-related contaminations. In particular car tire tread (Ø 40.8% of total MP) and ⁎C-PVC (Ø 12.0% of total MP) were found, with the latter presumably originating from paint used for road markings. Truck tire tread, C-PE, C-PP, C-PS, C-PMMA, and C-PC were also frequently found, but in much lower abundance (Ø <6.4% of total MP). Differences in contamination levels could be plausibly related to the sampling locations.
... Another central idea is that exposure to small plastic particles induces inflammation. Occupational health research on workers from textile and plastics industries as well as orthopedic research on the release of plastic particles from implants supports this idea (Goodman & Lidgren, 1992;Prata, 2018). Further, in vitro studies have demonstrated that immune cells respond to NP and microplastics exposures (reviewed in Danopoulos et al., 2021). ...
Article
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So far, the human health impacts of nano- and microplastics are poorly understood. Thus, we investigated whether nanoplastics exposure induces inflammatory processes in primary human monocytes and monocyte-derived dendritic cells. We exposed these cells in vitro to nanoplastics of different shapes (irregular vs. spherical), sizes (50–310 nm and polydisperse mixtures) and polymer types (polystyrene; polymethyl methacrylate; polyvinyl chloride, PVC) using concentrations of 30–300 particles cell⁻¹. Our results show that irregular PVC particles induce the strongest cytokine release of these nanoplastics. Irregular polystyrene triggered a significantly higher pro-inflammatory response compared to spherical nanoplastics. The contribution of chemicals leaching from the particles was minor. The effects were concentration-dependent but varied markedly between cell donors. We conclude that nanoplastics exposure can provoke human immune cells to secrete cytokines as key initiators of inflammation. This response is specific to certain polymers (PVC) and particle shapes (fragments). Accordingly, nanoplastics cannot be considered one homogenous entity when assessing their health implications and the use of spherical polystyrene nanoplastics may underestimate their inflammatory effects.
... MNPs in their minute (micro-and nano-) sizes have accumulated in aquatic animals [207,209,[211][212][213][214][215][216][217], causing an impactful change in their biological functions including interference with cell-cell interactions which is essential for proliferation of developing B cells as well as potentially dysregulating their maturation process [217], induced hepatic glycolipid metabolism disorder at the physiological, biochemical and transcriptomic levels [218], and increased oxygen consumption and respiration rate [219]. More so, Mazurais et al. [209] reported that polyethylene ( Humans are potentially exposed to these micro-/nanoplastics through different routes of entry including inhalation, dermal, and ingestion (oral) [9,[222][223][224][225]. There are several reports of micro-/nanoplastics detection and associated effects on human health. ...
Article
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The prevalence of micro and nanoplastics (MNPs) across the various environments and their negative impact on ecosystems have become a serious global threat and are currently a subject of many environmental concerns. Studies have provided evidence that MNPs have the potential to leach toxic plastic chemical additives and can adsorb a variety of persistent organic environmental pollutants, thereby enhancing their bioavailability, toxicity, and dispersion. Moreover, these MNPs easily penetrate the food chain and might cause health problems when ingested by humans and other organisms. Currently, there is complexity in understanding the mechanisms by which these toxic chemicals adsorb/desorb onto/from MNPs, and the physical and biological impacts of these chemical additives. To date, there is a considerable lack of knowledge on the major chemical additives of concern used in the plastic industry, their fate once MNPs dispose into the environment, the factors that affect their degradation, and their consequent impacts on human health. This review critically analyzes the current knowledge concerning the physical, chemical, and biological impacts of MNPs, and the various chemical and organic pollutants associated with MNPs. Emphasis was laid on their types, occurrence, fate, and distribution in the environment. The different techniques used in their identification, characterization, and removal were also elucidated. Furthermore, the consequent harmful effects of MNPs on human health were discussed to spur more future studies and fill knowledge gaps in this area.
... MNPLs can have the same toxicity as other atmospheric nanoparticles, which makes it difficult to compare them. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out studies regarding the toxicity of different sizes of polymers and their surface properties [24]. ...
Article
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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.
... The occurrence of AMPs is expected to increase with the growing population, and may have consequences for the properties of affected soil. Furthermore, inhalation of AMPs by animals and humans may pose potential health risks (Prata, 2018). ...
Article
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Long-term environmental contamination through microplastic (MP) exposure remains poorly understood and may pose economic and geochemical threats. Notably, only a few studies have been conducted on MP contamination of soils. This study investigated the migration of AMP fibers and their influence on water flow rates through porous media. Multiple columns with diameters of 5 cm and water flow rates of 3 ml/min were filled with glass beads or sand. The particle sizes varied between 3 mm for glass beads and 1–2 or 2–4 mm for sand. A method on how to artificially manufacture MP fibers with sizes ranging from 500 to 1000 μm representing AMP fibers occurring in the environment is introduced. The MP fibers were then introduced into water at varying concentrations that were reported in previous studies. The results revealed that regardless of their concentration, the MP fibers suspended in the water did not clog the porous media. In fact, although the fibers penetrated and accumulated in the soil, they did not disrupt the water flow. We recommend that future research focuses on using MP particles with varying densities and at lower concentrations, to prevent flocculation and increase the experiment run time.
... Humans may be exposed to MPs by ingestion of contaminated food and water, inhalation (indoor or outdoor air) and direct dermal contact through personal care items, textiles, or indoor dust (Prata, 2018;Revel et al., 2018). Humans are most likely to be exposed to MPs through their food, and oral intake of MPs is predicted to be 39,000-52,000 particles per person per year (Cox et al., 2019;Galloway, 2015). ...
Article
Microplastics bare of major concern for environmental conservation and animal welfare in recent years as its use has increased tremendously. Polyethylene microplastics (PE-MPs) are the most common microplastics and could get exposed to humans via different routes with oral>inhalation>dermal. Internalization of MPs through epithelial tissue could expose MPs to various cells such as dendritic cells, macrophages/monocytes, and/or T cells. In this study, we aimed at identifying the effects of two different sized (30.5 ± 10.5 and 6.2 ± 2.0 μm) PE-MPs on different human cell lines representing different tissues or cells that get exposed to MPs directly or indirectly. Six cell lines were cultured with different concentrations of PE-MPs and cell viability, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO), and cytokines were measured. PE-MPs did not substantially lower the cell viability of cells however highest concentration (1000 μg/mL) of both sized MPs slightly reduced cell viability in intestinal epithelial Caco-2 and lung epithelial A549 cells. Both sized PE-MPs induced higher NO in all the cell lines and upregulation of ROS generation was demonstrated at THP-1, Jurkat, and U937 immune cell lines. A pro-inflammatory cytokine response was seen in HaCaT keratinocyte cells when cultured with PE-MPs whereas the opposite effect was observed in THP-1 and U937 cells except with THP-1 cells cultured with larger-sized MPs. We found that the PE-MPs do not have the same effects on all kinds of cells and tissues exposed and the immune modulation is not necessarily inflammatory. Thus, this study gives insight into why more detailed studies focused on exposure routes and organ-specific effects of different MPs need to be carried out.
... The most potential sources of microfiber to reach the environment are provided in Fig. 2. Out of the given pathways, atmospheric fallout and domestic laundry are the most commonly noted sources of microplastics, and several research works were reported worldwide. In the case of atmospheric fallout, the sources that release the microplastics and their transport mechanism were established (Prata 2018). Researchers developed several washing machine aids to control the emission of microfibers through the domestic laundry (Kart 2019;Mcilwraith et al. 2019), analyzed different laundry parameters, and reported the possible ways to reduce it (Cotton et al. 2020;Lant et al. 2020;Napper and Thompson 2016;Rathinamoorthy and Raja Balasaraswathi 2021a). ...
Article
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The production, use, and disposal of synthetic textiles potentially release a significant amount of microfibers into the environment. Studies performed on municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) effluent reported a higher presence of microfibers due to the mix of domestic laundry effluent through sewage. As municipal WWTPs receive influents from households and industries, it serves as a sink for the microfibers. However, research on textile industry WWTPs that primarily treat the textile fabric processing wastewater was not explored with the concern of microfibers. Hence, the review aims to analyze the existing literature and enlighten the impact of WWTPs on microplastic emission into the environment by specifically addressing textile industry WWTPs. The results of the review confirmed that even after 95–99% removal, municipal WWTPs can emit around 160 million microplastics per day into the environment. Microfiber was the dominant shape identified by the review. The average microfiber contamination in the WWTP sludge was estimated as 200 microfibers per gram of sludge. As far as the industry-specific effluents are analyzed, textile wet processing industries effluents contained > 1000 times higher microfibers than municipal WWTP. Despite few existing studies on textile industry effluent, the review demonstrates that, so far, no studies were performed on the sludge obtained from WWTPs that handle textile industry effluents alone. Review results pointed out that more attention should be needed to the textile wastewater research which is addressing the textile wet processing industry WWTPs. Moreover, the sludge released from these WWTPs should be considered as an important source of microfiber as they contain more quantity of microfibers than the effluent, and also, their routes to the environment are huge and easy.
... The 50 nm size of polystyrene particles has led to cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on cells and macrophages cells and pulmonary epithelial cells (Paget et al., 2015). More commonly, the reaction to breathing in particles, dependent on individual metabolism and vulnerability, maybe articulated as instantaneous bronchial effects (asthma-like), inflammatory and fibrotic changes in the bronchial and peribronchial tissue (chronic bronchitis), interalveolar septa lesions (pneumothorax), disseminate interstitial fibrosis and granulomas with fiber inclusions (extrinsic allergic alveolitis, chronic pneumonia) (Prata, 2018). For instance, comparable effects have been listed in workers in the textile industry in close contact with polyester, nylon, acrylic fibers, and polyolefin. ...
Chapter
The spreading and abundance of micro and nano plastics into the world are so wide that many researchers used them as main pointers of the modern and contemporary period defining a new historical era. However, the inferences of microplastics are not yet systematically understood. There is the significant difficulty involved to know their impact due to dissimilar physical-chemical characteristics that make micro-plastics complex stressors. Micro-plastics carry toxic chemicals in the ecosystems, therefore serving as vectors of transport, and, on the other hand, a combination of dangerous chemicals that are further voluntarily during their manufacture as additives to increase polymer properties and extend their life. In this chapter, the authors prominently discuss the different kinds of literature on micro and nano-plastic exposure pathways and their probable risk to human health to encapsulate present information with the target of enhanced attention, upcoming study in this area, and information gaps.
Article
Single-use plastics (SUPs) have become an essential constituent of our daily life. It is being exploited in numerous pharmaceutical and healthcare applications. Despite their advantages and widespread use in the pharma and medical sectors, the potential clinical problems of plastics, especially the release of micro-nanoplastics (MNPs) and additives from medical plastics (e.g. bags, containers, and administrative sets) and sorption of drugs remain understudied. Certainly, the MNPs are multifaceted stressors that cause detrimental effects to the ecosystem and human health. The origin and persistence of MNPs in pharmaceutical products, their administration to humans, endurance and possible health implication, translocation, and excretion have not been reviewed in detail. The prime focus of this article is to conduct a systematic review on the leaching of MNPs and additives from pharmaceutical containers/administrative sets and their interaction with the pharmaceutical constituents. This review also explores the primary and secondary routes of MNPs entry from healthcare plastic products and their potential health hazards to humans. Furthermore, the fate of plastic waste generated in hospitals, their disposal, and associated MNPs release to the environment, along with preventive, and alternative measures are discussed herein.
Article
The global pollution of microplastics (MPs) has attracted widespread attention, and the atmosphere was an indispensable media for the global transmission of MPs. With the growing awareness of MPs, atmospheric microplastics (AMPs) have been proposed as a new topic in recent years. Compared with the extensive studies on MPs in Marine and terrestrial environments, the studies of AMPs remain limited. In this study, sampling and analysis methods, occurrence, source analysis and health risk of AMPs were summarized and discussed. According to the different sampling methods, AMPs can be divided into suspension microplastics (SAMPs) and deposition microplastics (DAMPs). Previous studies have shown that SAMPs and DAMPs differ in composition and abundance, with SAMPs generally having a higher fraction of fragments. The mechanism of the migration of AMPs between different media was not clear yet. We further collated global data on the composition characteristics of MPs in soil and fresh water, which showed that the fragment MPs in soil and fresh water was higher than that in the atmosphere. Polymers in soil and fresh water were mainly PP and PE, while AMPs in the atmosphere were mainly PET. The shape composition of the MPs in both atmospheric and freshwater systems suggests that there may be the same dominant factor. The transport of AMPs and source apportionment were the important issues of current research, but both of them were at the initial stage. Therefore, AMPs needs to be further studied, especially for the source and fate, which would be conducive to understand the global distribution of AMPs. Furthermore, a standardized manual on sampling and processing of AMPs was also necessary to facilitate the comparative analysis of data between different studies and the construction of global models.
Article
Microplastics (MPs) have become a global concern as a key environmental pollutant. MPs are widely found in oceans, rivers, bottled water, plastic-packaged foods, and toiletries. The ocular surface is the exposed mucosal tissue, which comes in contact with MP particles contained in toiletries, tap water, cosmetics, and air. However, the effects of MPs on ocular surface health are still unclear. In this study, the toxic effects of polystyrene MPs (PS-MPs) on the ocular surface in vivo and in vitro were explored. The results demonstrated that 50 nm or 2 μm PS-MPs, following exposure for 48 h appeared in the cytoplasm of two kinds of eye cells in vitro and caused a concentration dependent reduction in cell viability, further causing oxidative stress and cell apoptosis. In addition, after treatment for 2 or 4 weeks, 50 nm and 2 μm PS-MPs were deposited in the conjunctival sac of mice. After 2 and 4 weeks of PS-MP treatment, the number of goblet cells in the lower eyelid conjunctival sac decreased to 65% and 40% of that in the control group, respectively. Moreover, dry eye like ocular surface damage and inflammation of conjunctiva and lacrimal gland in mice were observed. In conclusion, this study revealed that PS-MPs could cause ocular surface dysfunctions in mice, thus providing a new perspective for the toxic effects of MPs on ocular surface.
Article
Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is an important polymer that is based on renewable biomass resources. Because of environmental issues, more renewable sources for polymers synthesis have been sought for industrial purposes. In this sense, cheaper monomers should be used to facilitate better utilization of less valuable chemicals and therefore granting more sustainable processes. Some points are raised about the need to study the total degradability of any PLA, which may require specific composting conditions (e.g., temperature, type of microorganism, adequate humidity and aerobic environment). Polymerization processes to produce PLA are presented with an emphasis on D,L-lactic acid (or rac-lactide) as the reactant monomer. The syntheses involving homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes to produce poly(D,L-Lactic acid) (PDLLA) are also addressed. Additionally, the production of blends, copolymers, and composites with PDLLA are also presented exemplifying different preparation methods. Some general applications of these materials mostly dedicated to the biomedical area over the last 10–15 years will be pointed out.
Chapter
Microplastics (MPs) have recently emerged as an important environmental contaminant. Due to their environmental persistence and deep penetration into the body, microplastics may cause harmful health effects such as oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, disruption in the immune system, neurotoxicity, microbial infections, etc. Microplastics are ubiquitous and have been recovered from regions far from their primary sources of origin. They are generally defined as plastic fragments having a diameter ranging between 1 μm to 5 mm. Microplastic exists in different shapes, sizes, and colors, determined by its origin and production process, and thus varies greatly in abundance depending on the source of origin. The chemical composition of the MPs depends on the type of polymer used to make the plastics from which MPs are eventually formed. Many scientific investigations have been carried out to document the effects of MPs in marine and other aquatic ecosystems. However, there exists an information gap about their quantitative assessment in the atmosphere, physical and chemical characteristics, and associated health impacts. Moreover, to examine their occurrence, transport, and risks to human health, more research‐based studies are required to standardize sampling and identification protocols. In this chapter, based on the existing literature, we have discussed the characteristics of MPs present in the atmosphere, their possible route of exposure to the human body, and associated health effects.
Article
Due to the increasing evidence of widespread plastic pollution in the air, the impact on plants of airborne particles of polycarbonate (PC), polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), and polyvinylchloride (PVC) was tested by administering pristine and aged airborne micro-nanoplastics (MNPs) to Tillandsia usneoides for two weeks. Here we showed that exposure to pristine MNPs, significantly reduced plant growth with respect to controls. Particularly, PVC almost halved plant development at the end of the treatment, while the other plastics exerted negative effects on growth only at the beginning of the exposure, with final stages comparable to those of controls. Plants exposed to aged MNPs showed significantly decreased growth at early stages with PC, later in the growth with PE, and even later with PET. Aged PVC did not exert a toxic effect on plants. When present, the plastic-mediated reduction in plant growth was coupled with a decrease in photosynthetic activity and alterations in the plant concentration of macro- and micronutrients. The plastic particles were showed to adhere to the plant surface and, preferentially, on the trichome wings. Our results reported, for the first time, evidence of negative effects of airborne plastic pollution on plant health, thus raising concerns for related environmental risks.
Article
There are increasing concerns over the threat of nanoplastics to environmental and human health. However, multidisciplinary barriers persist between the communities assessing the risks to environmental and human health. As a result, the hazards and risks of nanoplastics remain uncertain. Here, we identify key knowledge gaps by evaluating the exposure of nanoplastics in the environment, assessing their bio-nano interactions, and examining their potential risks to humans and the environment. We suggest considering nanoplastics a complex and dynamic mixture of polymers, additives, and contaminants, with interconnected risks to environmental and human health. We call for comprehensive integration of One Health approach to produce robust multidisciplinary evidence to nanoplastics threats at the planetary level. Although there are many challenges, this holistic approach incorporates the relevance of environmental exposure and multi-sectoral responses, which provide the opportunity to identify the risk mitigation strategies of nanoplastics to build resilient health systems.
Chapter
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In the contemporary world, the menace of plastic pollution dovetailed with the current pandemic scenario is a globally rising concern which is affecting every life form on Earth. Plastics hold several properties like ductility that permit the material to be casted and given numerous shapes and forms for various commercial uses. When summed up, it has benefited mankind by becoming an indispensable part of our lives. But the negative impacts associated with it lurks behind silently. Most of the plastic polymers manufactured today are highly resistant to degradation, and the accumulation of these complex and persistent materials are not only causing serious damage to the environment, but also to human health. Additives are added during the manufacturing process to improve the life of these synthetic polymers. The excessive usage of plastic products has resulted in accumulation of the hazardous chemicals, associated with plastic polymers in human body about which this chapter discusses further.
Chapter
An increasing body of evidence exists on (micro)plastics in various environmental systems. Yet limited comprehensive reviews exist on the human health effects of (micro)plastics and their chemical additives, and the potential human exposure routes in low-income and developed countries. Here, evidence is examined to address three objectives: (1) to summarize the occurrence of (micro)plastics and their additives in environmental media relevant to human exposure, (2) to discuss the multiple human exposure pathways to (micro)plastics and chemical additives, and (3) to discuss potential and confirmed cases of human health risks of (micro)plastics and their additives. Evidence shows that (micro)plastics and their chemical additives occur in various environmental media including soils, aquatic systems, biota, human foods (e.g., fish, honey, table salt), and airborne particulates in occupational and non-occupational settings. This points to the potential transfer of (micro)plastics and chemical additives into the human food chain and the human body. Occupational and nonoccupational human exposure to (micro)plastics and chemical additives occurs through: (1) ingestion of contaminated foods and water, (2) inhalation of air-borne (micro)plastics, and (3) dermal or skin intake (contact exposure). (Micro)plastics pose multiple potential human health risks, including: (1) cell and DNA damage through oxidative stress, (2) inflammation, (3) lung/respiratory disorders, and (4) compromised immunity. Human health risks of chemical additives including endocrine disruptors are also documented. However, besides a few empirical studies, the bulk of the evidence remains largely inferential, and the reasons accounting for this are discussed. Future directions and perspectives on human health risks of MPs are summarized, including: (1) quantitative evidence linking human exposure risks to specific health outcomes, (2) human health risks in low-income countries, (3) human health risks arising from the interactions of (micro)plastics and chemical additives, and other human health stressors, and (4) long-term and inter-generational health risks.
Article
Microplastic pollution is increasingly recognised as a global environmental challenge which stems from the rapid growth of the use of petrochemical-derived plastic. As researchers and practitioners face a myriad of environmental challenges, oceanic microplastic pollution has so far dominated interest. However, airborne microplastics present an increasing environmental and public health concern. There is currently a need for research addressing this emerging challenge, and at the same time, the lack of knowledge and consensus regarding airborne microplastics presents an obstacle to action. The purpose of this study is to utilise a participatory Structured Decision-Making (SDM) approach to understand the perspectives of a range of stakeholders involved in the microplastics landscape, and subsequently refine common research priorities and knowledge gaps to advance the field. Through two participatory workshops, we first defined shared objectives of stakeholders and then negotiated best courses of action to achieve these objectives based on discussion between stakeholders and facilitators. The qualitative approach taken has enabled the full, complex and multidisciplinary aspects of the research into airborne microplastic pollution to be considered. Our findings highlight some important potential consequences of airborne microplastic pollution, including impacts on human health, and the need for more interdisciplinary research, and collaborative, integrated approaches in this area. As a result of the first workshop, five fundamental objectives on the theme of airborne microplastics were identified. As a direct consequence of this, participants identified 84 actions split across eight themes, which are outlined later in this paper.
Article
Microplastics, plastic particles <5 mm in size, are of global concern as human-caused pollutants in marine and fresh waters, and yet little is known of their distribution, behaviour and ecological impact in the intertidal environment of South Australia. This study confirms for the first time, the presence of microplastic in the South Australian intertidal ecosystem by quantifying the abundance of particles in intertidal water and in the keystone species, the blue mussel, Mytilus spp., an important fisheries species, at ten and six locations respectively, along the South Australian coastline. For a remote region known for its pristine environment, microplastic concentration in intertidal water was found to be low to moderate (mean = 8.21 particles L⁻¹ ± 4.91) relative to global levels and microplastic abundance in mussels (mean = 3.58 ± 8.18 particles individual⁻¹) was within the range also reported globally. Microplastic particles were ubiquitous across sites and bioavailable by size in water (mean = 906.36 μm) and in mussel (mean = 983.29 μm) raising concerns for the health of South Australia's unique coastal ecosystems and for the human food chain. Furthermore, a positive correlation was found between human coastal population size and microplastic concentration in intertidal water, irrespective of influences from industry - tourism, fishing and shipping ports. FTIR analysis determined plastic type to include polyamide (PA), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), acrylic resin, polyethyleneterephthalate (PET) and cellulose, suggesting synthetic and semi-synthetic particles from single-use, short-life cycle products, fabrics, ropes and cordage. Our findings shed light on the urgent need to establish the local sources of microplastic pollution in order to assist the community, industry and government to reduce the impact of microplastic on the fragile marine systems within South Australian intertidal waters and on the organisms associated with the human food chain.
Article
Three-dimensional (3D) structured organoids are the most advanced in vitro models for studying human health effects, but their application to evaluate the biological effects associated with microplastic exposure was neglected until now. Fibers from synthetic clothes and fabrics are a major source of airborne microplastics, and their release from dryer machines is poorly understood. We quantified and characterized the microplastic fibers (MPFs) released in the exhaust filter of a household dryer and tested their effects on airway organoids (1, 10, and 50 µg mL⁻¹) by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal microscopy and quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). While the presence of MPFs did not inhibit organoid growth, we observed a significant reduction of SCGB1A1 gene expression related to club cell functionality and a polarized cell growth along the fibers. The MPFs did not cause relevant inflammation or oxidative stress but were coated with a cellular layer, resulting in the inclusion of fibers in the organoid. This effect could have long-term implications regarding lung epithelial cells undergoing repair. This exposure study using human airway organoids proved suitability of the model for studying the effects of airborne microplastic contamination on humans and could form the basis for further research regarding the toxicological assessment of emerging contaminants such as micro- or nanoplastics.
Article
Microplastics (MPs) pollution has become a global concern due to its close relation to the environment and human health. Recently, more and more studies have pointed out the existence of MPs in the air, but its potential inhalation toxicity is unclear. Polystyrene Microplastics (PS-MPs) is one of the representative MPs. Besides, non-coding RNA plays crucial roles in regulating gene expression. Therefore, this study aims to provide new insights into the molecular exploration of PS-MPs inhalation. In this study, Sprague Dawley(SD)rats were treated with 100 nm, 500 nm, 1 μm and 2.5 μm PS-MPs for three days. And then intra-tracheal instillation of saline or 100 nm PS-MPs with 0, 0.5, 1 and 2 mg/200 μL were performed in SD rats every two days for two consecutive weeks. The deposition of PS-MPs was observed through immunofluorescence. Lung histological alternations were observed in haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining sections. The expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines were quantified by ELISA and qPCR. Genome-wide transcriptomic profiling of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), circular RNAs (circRNAs) in rats lung were done by ribosomal RNA depleted RNA sequencing and verified by qRT-PCR. We observed that 100 nm and 1 μm PS-MPs could deposite in the lungs. In addition, pathological examination shows alveolar destruction and bronchial epithelium arranged in a mess in PS-MPs groups. Furthermore, the expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6, TNF-α and IL-1β were upregulated in PS-MPs exposed rats. Sequencing results showed that 269 circRNAs and 109 lncRNAs were differentially expressed in lung tissue of the saline and PS-MPs exposed rats. The upregulated expressions of lncRNA XLOC_031479, circRNA 014924 and circRNA 006603 and the downregulated expressions of lncRNA XLOC_014188 and circ003982 were identified by qRT-PCR in MPs group. The identified novel circRNAs and lncRNAs may paly important role in the development of lung inflammation caused by PS-MPs.
Article
Microplastics (MPs) are emerging pollutants with detrimental effects on aquatic organisms and human health. The massive generation of plastic waste on land leads to MPs pollution in the aquatic environment. Some reports highlight the abundance of MPs in Pakistan however, no detailed research has been documented about the presence of MPs in the riverine environment. In this regard, the present study highlights the spatial distribution of MPs in River Ravi during monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. The MPs in water and sediment samples were isolated through wet peroxide oxidation digestion, density separation, and filtration followed by microscopic quantification and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. The results showed that in water samples, the average concentrations of MPs in monsoon and post-monsoon seasons were 768 ± 869 MPs/m³ and 1324 ± 1925 MPs/m³, whereas, sediments depicted 5323 ± 3792 MPs/kg-dry weight and 2637 ± 2701 MPs/kg-dry weight, respectively. Similarly, fiber was the most abundant type of MPs, and Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyester (PES), and Polystyrene (PS) were the most dominant polymer types in both environmental matrices. In terms of their sources, urban sprawl, industrialization, improper solid waste management, and overuse of plastic products are positively correlated with MPs level in River Ravi. Moreover, this is the first study on the spatiotemporal distribution of MPs in River Ravi from Pakistan and indicates the high burden of MPs pollution. Consequently, it will provide scientific information to policymakers and river managers to deal effectively with plastic pollution.
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Plastic wastes are ubiquitous in the offshore and oceans with an increasing quantity, and inevitably, microbial communities colonized the plastics to form biofilms, which have become dispersal vectors for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). This study focused on the impact of plastic properties including hardness, wettability, and zeta-potential on the biomass, prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities and ARGs in biofilms formed on specific plastics (polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET)) in an estuarine environment. The results showed that, in comparison to PP, more biomass characterized by more dry weight, chlorophyll a (Chl a) and total organic carbon (TOC) was found in biofilms formed on PE and PET, which may be related to their lower surface wettability. Proteobacteria were the dominant prokaryotic phyla, and they accounted for 53.06%, 81.90%, 37.06%, 76.25%, and 54.27% of the total sequences in biofilms on PE, PP, PET, water and sediment, respectively. Ascomycota were the predominant eukaryotic phyla in biofilms, water, and sediment, and their abundances were elevated in biofilms on PP, which accounted for 34.73%. The biofilms on PP had a higher relative abundance of ARGs (3.13) compared to those on PE (2.59) and PET (0.23). Furthermore, both the plastic-biofilm properties (e.g. dry weight, Chl a, and TOC) and microbial communities (e.g., Fungi and Proteobacteria) may be involved in regulating the abundance of ARGs. Moreover, mobile genetic elements (MGEs) were significantly correlated to both the absolute and relative abundance of ARGs, indicating that MGEs may regulate the migration of ARGs in biofilms. Taken together, this investigation provides the significance of the plastic type, surface properties, and surrounding environments in shaping microbial communities and ARGs in biofilms formed on plastics.
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Healthcare waste includes the waste generated by healthcare facilities, medical laboratories and biomedical research facilities. Improper treatment of this waste stands severe risks of disease transmission to waste pickers, waste workers, health workers, patients, and the community in general through exposure to infectious agents. Poor management of the waste emits destructive and deleterious contaminants into society. The WHO has established guidelines for management of healthcare waste. These guidelines are assisting to manage the highly contagious healthcare waste resulting from the current pandemic. Proper healthcare waste management may add value by lower the spread of the COVID-19 virus and raising the recyclability of materials instead of sending them to landfill. Disinfecting and sorting out healthcare waste facilitate sustainable management and enable their utilization for valuable purposes. This review discusses the various healthcare solid waste management strategies and the possible solutions for overcoming these challenges. It also provides useful knowledge’s into healthcare solid waste management scenarios during the COVID-19 pandemic and a possible way forward.
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Commercially manufactured or generated through environmental degradation, microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) considerably contribute to environmental pollution. There is a knowledge gap in how exposure to MPs/NPs changes cellular function and affects animal and human health. Here, we demonstrate that after oral uptake, fluorescent polystyrene (PS) nanoparticles pass through the mouse digestive system, accumulate and aggregate in different organs, and induce functional changes in cells and organs. Using cochlear explant as a novel in vitro system, we confirmed the consequences of PS-MP/NP interaction with inner ear cells by detecting aggregates and hetero-aggregates of PS particles in hair cells. The testes of treated males accumulated MPs/NPs in the interstitial compartment surrounding the seminiferous tubules, which was associated with a statistically significant decrease in testosterone levels. Male mice showed increased secretion of interleukins (IL-12p35 and IL-23) by splenocytes while cyto- and genotoxicity tests indicated impaired cell viability and increased DNA damage in spleen tissue. Males also showed a broad range of anxiogenic responses to PS nanoparticles while hippocampal samples from treated females showed an increased expression of Bax and Nlrp3 genes, indicating a pro-apoptotic/proinflammatory effect of PS treatment. Taken together, induced PS effects are also gender-dependent, and therefore, strongly motivate future research to mitigate the deleterious effects of nanosized plastic particles.
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Airborne microplastics (MPs) have recently received global attention, with most researches on microplastics having been limited to marine environments and developed countries. Microplastics in the air have detrimental effects on human health as they gain access to the human body via inhalation through the mouth and the nose. This chapter investigates airborne MPs in developing countries. China dominates the studies on airborne MPs in developing countries. MPs have also been detected in Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, India, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia, but no studies were found from Africa. The main sources of MPs include urban dust, drying clothes, household furniture, aerosols from the wastewater treatment plants, and biosolids application on agricultural land. Plastic-based COVID-19 personal protective equipment is also a new source of airborne MPs. The abundance of MPs is higher in indoor than outdoor air raising concerns on potential human health risks. Outdoor air in selected developing countries registered higher concentrations of airborne MPs than in developed countries. Airborne MPs in developing countries are dominated by synthetic fibres, such as polyester, and polyethylene terephthalate. Transparent and white colours were always present in 67% of the studies. The dominant mean size of identified MPs was 500 μm. Microplastics were also present in pristine, remote environments. The occurrence, behaviour, and fate of airborne MPs are affected by a number of factors that include climatic conditions, particle size, proximity to human activity, and the level of economic development. There is a need to standardize sampling, laboratory analysis, and reporting units of MPs including conversion of abundances to mass concentrations to enable comparison amongst studies. More research is also required to understand the transport processes of airborne MPs.
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Radioiodine is one of the long-lived fission products and also an important radionuclide released during nuclear accidents, which generates interest in its environmental fate. Its sorption has been studied in a wide range of materials, but no equivalent study exists for microplastics, an emerging environmental vector. Weathering and biofilm formation on microplastics can enhance radioiodine sorption. For the first time, we're reporting how radioiodine interacts with different types of polyethylene derived microplastics (pristine, irradiated, and biofilm developed microplastics). This study revealed that exposure to radiation and the marine environment significantly alters the physico-chemical properties of microplastics. In particular, in marine-exposed samples, a signature of biofilm development was detected. Speciation study indicates that iodine exists in the iodide form in the studied marine environment. The study revealed that, iodide ions attach to biofilm-developed microplastics via electrostatic, ion-dipole, pore filling, and van der Waals interactions. Pore filling, ion-dipole, and van der Waals interactions may cause iodide binding to irradiated microplastics, whereas pore-filling and van der Waals interactions cause iodide binding to pristine microplastics. The distribution coefficient (Kd) of iodine on microplastics is positively correlated with biofilm biomass, which signifies the role of biofilm in radioiodine uptake. The Kd indicates microplastics are potential iodide accumulators and could be a possible vector in the marine system.
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Microplastics are a pollutant of environmental concern. Their presence in food destined for human consumption and in air samples has been reported. Thus, microplastic exposure via diet or inhalation could occur, the human health effects of which are unknown. The current review article draws upon cross-disciplinary scientific literature to discuss and evaluate the potential human health impacts of microplastics and outlines urgent areas for future research. Key literature up to September 2016 relating to bioaccumulation, particle toxicity, and chemical and microbial contaminants were critically examined. Whilst this is an emerging field, complimentary existing fields indicate potential particle, chemical and microbial hazards. If inhaled or ingested, microplastics may bioaccumulate and exert localised particle toxicity by inducing or enhancing an immune response. Chemical toxicity could occur due to the localised leaching of component monomers, endogenous additives, and adsorbed environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure is anticipated to be of greater concern due to the accumulative effect which could occur. This is expected to be dose-dependent, and a robust evidence-base of exposure levels is currently lacking. Whilst there is potential for microplastics to impact human health, assessing current exposure levels and burdens is key. This information will guide future research into the potential mechanisms of toxicity and hence therein possible health effects.
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Plastic debris is an environmentally persistent and complex contaminant of increasing concern. Understanding the sources, abundance and composition of microplastics present in the environment is a huge challenge due to the fact that hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic material is manufactured for societal use annually, some of which is released to the environment. The majority of microplastics research to date has focussed on the marine environment. Although freshwater and terrestrial environments are recognised as origins and transport pathways of plastics to the oceans, there is still a comparative lack of knowledge about these environmental compartments. It is highly likely that microplastics will accumulate within continental environments, especially in areas of high anthropogenic influence such as agricultural or urban areas. This review critically evaluates the current literature on the presence, behaviour and fate of microplastics in freshwater and terrestrial environments and, where appropriate, also draws on relevant studies from other fields including nanotechnology, agriculture and waste management. Furthermore, we evaluate the relevant biological and chemical information from the substantial body of marine microplastic literature, determining the applicability and comparability of this data to freshwater and terrestrial systems. With the evidence presented, the authors have set out the current state of the knowledge, and identified the key gaps. These include the volume and composition of microplastics entering the environment, behaviour and fate of microplastics under a variety of environmental conditions and how characteristics of microplastics influence their toxicity. Given the technical challenges surrounding microplastics research, it is especially important that future studies develop standardised techniques to allow for comparability of data. The identification of these research needs will help inform the design of future studies, to determine both the extent and potential ecological impacts of microplastic pollution in freshwater and terrestrial environments.
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The hypothesis that 'microplastic will transfer hazardous hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOC) to marine animals' has been central to the perceived hazard and risk of plastic in the marine environment. The hypothesis is often cited and has gained momentum, turning it into paradigm status. We provide a critical evaluation of the scientific literature regarding this hypothesis. Using new calculations based on published studies, we explain the sometimes contrasting views and unify them in one interpretive framework. One explanation for the contrasting views among studies is that they test different hypotheses. When reframed in the context of the above hypothesis, the available data become consistent. We show that HOC microplastic-water partitioning can be assumed to be at equilibrium for most microplastic residing in the oceans. We calculate the fraction of total HOC sorbed by plastics to be small compared to that sorbed by other media in the ocean. We further demonstrate consistency among (a) measured HOC transfer from microplastic to organisms in the laboratory, (b) measured HOC desorption rates for polymers in artificial gut fluids (c) simulations by plastic-inclusive bioaccumulation models and (d) HOC desorption rates for polymers inferred from first principles. We conclude that overall the flux of HOCs bioaccumulated from natural prey overwhelms the flux from ingested microplastic for most habitats, which implies that microplastic ingestion is not likely to increase the exposure to and thus risks of HOCs in the marine environment.
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Microplastic debris floating at the ocean surface can harm marine life. Understanding the severity of this harm requires knowledge of plastic abundance and distributions. Dozens of expeditions measuring microplastics have been carried out since the 1970s, but they have primarily focused on the North Atlantic and North Pacific accumulation zones, with much sparser coverage elsewhere. Here, we use the largest dataset of microplastic measurements assembled to date to assess the confidence we can have in global estimates of microplastic abundance and mass. We use a rigorous statistical framework to standardize a global dataset of plastic marine debris measured using surface-trawling plankton nets and coupled this with three different ocean circulation models to spatially interpolate the observations. Our estimates show that the accumulated number of microplastic particles in 2014 ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons, which is only approximately 1% of global plastic waste estimated to enter the ocean in the year 2010. These estimates are larger than previous global estimates, but vary widely because the scarcity of data in most of the world ocean, differences in model formulations, and fundamental knowledge gaps in the sources, transformations and fates of microplastics in the ocean.
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Plastics are highly versatile materials that have brought huge societal benefits. They can be manufactured at low cost and their lightweight and adaptable nature has a myriad of applications in all aspects of everyday life, including food packaging, consumer products, medical devices and construction. By 2050, however, it is anticipated that an extra 33 billion tonnes of plastic will be added to the planet. Given that most currently used plastic polymers are highly resistant to degradation, this influx of persistent, complex materials is a risk to human and environmental health. Continuous daily interaction with plastic items allows oral, dermal and inhalation exposure to chemical components, leading to the widespread presence in the human body of chemicals associated with plastics. Indiscriminate disposal places a huge burden on waste management systems, allowing plastic wastes to infiltrate ecosystems, with the potential to contaminate the food chain. Of particular concern has been the reported presence of microscopic plastic debris, or microplastics (debris ≤1 mm in size), in aquatic, terrestrial and marine habitats. Yet, the potential for microplastics and nanoplastics of environmental origin to cause harm to human health remains understudied. In this article, some of the most widely encountered plastics in everyday use are identified and their potential hazards listed. Different routes of exposure to human populations , both of plastic additives, microplastics and nanoplastics from food items and from discarded debris are discussed. Risks associated with plastics and additives considered to be of most concern for human health are identified. Finally, some recent developments in delivering a new generation of safer, more sustainable polymers are considered.
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A total of 47 honeys and 22 flowering plants was analysed for their load of synthetic fibres and fragments. In all samples investigated foreign particles were found. These include also black carbon particles which were not enumerated. Fibres and fragments ranged from 10 to 336 kg(-1) and 2 to 82 kg(-1) honey, respectively. The data of the flowering plants analysed indicate that a major proportion of the particle load may originate from external sources, i.e. these particles are brought into the beehive by the worker bees during nectar collection.
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There is growing evidence of extensive pollution of the environment by microplastic, with microfibres representing a large proportion of the microplastics seen in marine sediments. Since microfibres are ubiquitous in the environment, present in the laboratory air and water, evaluating microplastic pollution is difficult. Incidental contamination is highly likely unless strict control measures are employed. Here we describe methods developed to minimize the amount of incidental post-sampling contamination when quantifying marine microfibre pollution. We show that our protocol, adapted from the field of forensic fibre examination, reduces fibre abundance by 90% and enables the quick screening of fibre populations. These methods therefore allow an accurate estimate of microplastics polluting marine sediments. In a case study from a series of samples collected on a research vessel, we use these methods to highlight the prevalence of microfibres as marine microplastics. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment, yet estimates of the global abundance and weight of floating plastics have lacked data, particularly from the Southern Hemisphere and remote regions. Here we report an estimate of the total number of plastic particles and their weight floating in the world’s oceans from 24 expeditions (2007–2013) across all five sub-tropical gyres, costal Australia, Bay of Bengal and the Mediterranean Sea conducting surface net tows (N5680) and visual survey transects of large plastic debris (N5891). Using an oceanographic model of floating debris dispersal calibrated by our data, and correcting for wind-driven vertical mixing, we estimate a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons. When comparing between four size classes, two microplastic ,4.75 mm and meso- and macroplastic .4.75 mm, a tremendous loss of microplastics is observed from the sea surface compared to expected rates of fragmentation, suggesting there are mechanisms at play that remove ,4.75 mm plastic particles from the ocean surface.
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Any assessment of plastic contamination in the marine environment requires knowledge of the polymer type and the additive content of microplastics. Sequential pyrolysis-gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (Pyr-GC/MS) was applied to simultaneously identify polymer types of microplastic particles and associated organic plastic additives (OPAs). In addition, a scanning electron microscope equipped with an energy-dispersive X-ray microanalyser was used to identify the inorganic plastic additives (IPAs) contained in these particles. A total of ten particles, which were optically identified as potentially being plastics, were extracted from two sediment samples collected from Norderney, a North Sea island, by density separation in sodium chloride. The weights of these blue, white and transparent fragments varied between 10 and 350 μg. Polymer types were identified by comparing the resulting pyrograms with those obtained from the pyrolysis of selected standard polymers. The particles consisted of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene, polystyrene, polyamide, chlorinated PE and chlorosulfonated PE. The polymers contained diethylhexyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, diisobutyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate, benzaldehyde and 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol. Sequential Py-GC/MS was found to be an appropriate tool for identifying marine microplastics for polymer types and OPAs. The IPAs identified were titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NPs), barium, sulphur and zinc. When polymer-TiO2 composites are degraded in the marine environment, TiO2-NPs are probably released. Thus, marine microplastics may act as a TiO2-NP source, which has not yet been considered.
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Reactive oxygen or nitrogen species (ROS, RNS) and oxidative stress in the respiratory system increase the production of mediators of pulmonary inflammation and initiate or promote mechanisms of carcinogenesis. The lungs are exposed daily to oxidants generated either endogenously or exogenously (air pollutants, cigarette smoke, etc.). Cells in aerobic organisms are protected against oxidative damage by enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems. Recent epidemiologic investigations have shown associations between increased incidence of respiratory diseases and lung cancer from exposure to low levels of various forms of respirable fibers and particulate matter (PM), at occupational or urban air polluting environments. Lung cancer increases substantially for tobacco smokers due to the synergistic effects in the generation of ROS, leading to oxidative stress and inflammation with high DNA damage potential. Physical and chemical characteristics of particles (size, transition metal content, speciation, stable free radicals, etc.) play an important role in oxidative stress. In turn, oxidative stress initiates the synthesis of mediators of pulmonary inflammation in lung epithelial cells and initiation of carcinogenic mechanisms. Inhalable quartz, metal powders, mineral asbestos fibers, ozone, soot from gasoline and diesel engines, tobacco smoke and PM from ambient air pollution (PM10 and PM2.5) are involved in various oxidative stress mechanisms. Pulmonary cancer initiation and promotion has been linked to a series of biochemical pathways of oxidative stress, DNA oxidative damage, macrophage stimulation, telomere shortening, modulation of gene expression and activation of transcription factors with important role in carcinogenesis. In this review we are presenting the role of ROS and oxidative stress in the production of mediators of pulmonary inflammation and mechanisms of carcinogenesis.
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Many ultrafine particles comprised classically of low–toxicity, low–solubility materials such as carbon black and titaniu dioxide have been found to have greater toxicity than larger, respirable particles made of the same material. The basis o the increased toxicity of the ultrafine form is not well understood and a programme of research has been carried out in Edinburg on the toxicology of ultrafines aimed at understanding the mechanism. We used fine and ultrafine carbon black, TiO2 and latex and showed that there was an approximately 10–fold increase in inflammation with the same mass of ultrafine compare with fine particles. Using latex particles in three sizes — 64, 202 and 535 nm — revealed that the smallest particles (6 nm) were profoundly inflammogenic but that the 202 and 535 nm particles had much less activity, suggesting that the cut–of for ultrafine toxicity lies somewhere between 64 and 202 nm. Increased oxidative activity of the ultrafine particle surfac was shown using the fluorescent molecule dichlorofluorescein confirming that oxidative stress is a likely process by whic the ultrafines have their effects. However, studies with transition–metal chelators and soluble extracts showed that the oxidativ stress of ultrafine carbon black is not necessarily due to transition metals. Changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels in macrophage–like cells after ultrafine particle exposure suggested one way by which ultrafines might have thei pro–inflammogenic effects.
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Although nanoparticles have tremendous potential for a host of applications, their adverse effects on living cells have raised serious concerns recently for their use in the healthcare and consumer sectors. As regards the central nervous system (CNS), research data on nanoparticle interaction with neurons has provided evidence of both negative and positive effects. Maximal application dosage of nanoparticles in materials to provide applications such as antibacterial and antiviral functions is approximately 0.1-1.0 wt.%. This concentration can be converted into a liquid phase release rate (leaching rate) depending upon the host or base materials used. For example, nanoparticulate silver (Ag) or copper oxide (CuO)-filled epoxy resin demonstrates much reduced release of the metal ions (Ag⁺ or Cu2⁺) into their surrounding environment unless they are mechanically removed or aggravated. Subsequent to leaching effects and entry into living systems, nanoparticles can also cross through many other barriers, such as skin and the blood - brain barrier (BBB), and may also reach bodily organs. In such cases, their concentration or dosage in body fluids is considered to be well below the maximum drug toxicity test limit (10⁻⁵ g ml⁻¹) as determined in artificial cerebrospinal solution. As this is a rapidly evolving area and the use of such materials will continue to mature, so will their exposure to members of society. Hence, neurologists have equal interests in nanoparticle effects (positive functionality and negative toxicity) on human neuronal cells within the CNS, where the current research in this field will be highlighted and reviewed.
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Studies about microplastics in various environments highlighted the ubiquity of anthropogenic fibers. As a follow-up of a recent study that emphasized the presence of man-made fibers in atmospheric fallout, this study is the first one to investigate fibers in indoor and outdoor air. Three different indoor sites were considered: two private apartments and one office. In parallel, the outdoor air was sampled in one site. The deposition rate of the fibers and their concentration in settled dust collected from vacuum cleaner bags were also estimated. Overall, indoor concentrations ranged between 1.0 and 60.0 fibers/m³. Outdoor concentrations are significantly lower as they range between 0.3 and 1.5 fibers/m³. The deposition rate of the fibers in indoor environments is between 1586 and 11,130 fibers/day/m² leading to an accumulation of fibers in settled dust (190–670 fibers/mg). Regarding fiber type, 67% of the analyzed fibers in indoor environments are made of natural material, primarily cellulosic, while the remaining 33% fibers contain petrochemicals with polypropylene being predominant. Such fibers are observed in marine and continental studies dealing with microplastics. The observed fibers are supposedly too large to be inhaled but the exposure may occur through dust ingestion, particularly for young children.
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Background: There is conflicting evidence about the association between bisphenol A (BPA) exposure and childhood asthma risk. We aimed to review the epidemiological literature on the relationship between prenatal or postnatal exposure to BPA and the risk of childhood asthma/wheeze. Methods: The PubMed database was systematically searched, and additional studies were found by searching reference lists of relevant articles. Results: Six studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Three studies found that prenatal BPA exposure is associated with an increased risk of childhood wheeze, while another study reported a reduced risk of wheeze. Regarding the postnatal BPA exposure, three studies demonstrated an increased risk of childhood asthma/wheeze. Conclusions: The mean prenatal BPA was associated with the risk of childhood wheeze/asthma. Besides, the influence of BPA exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy on the prevalence of childhood wheeze was marked. Further studies are urgently needed to explore the underlying mechanism about adverse effect of BPA exposure on childhood wheeze/asthma.
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The presence of microplastics (MPs) in the environment is a problem of growing concern. While research has focused on MP occurrence and impacts in the marine environment, very little is known about their release on land, storage in soils and sediments and transport by run-off and rivers. This study describes a first theoretical assessment of these processes. A mathematical model of catchment hydrology, soil erosion and sediment budgets was upgraded to enable description of MP fate. The Thames River in the UK was used as a case study. A general lack of data on MP emissions to soils and rivers and the mass of MPs in agricultural soils, limits the present work to serve as a purely theoretical, nevertheless rigorous, assessment that can be used to guide future monitoring and impact evaluations. The fundamental assumption on which modelling is based is that the same physical controls on soil erosion and natural sediment transport (for which model calibration and validation are possible), also control MP transport and storage. Depending on sub-catchment soil characteristics and precipitation patterns, approximately 16% to 38% of the heavier-than-water MPs hypothetically added to soils (e.g. through routine applications of sewage sludge) are predicted to be stored locally. In the stream, MPs < 0.2 mm are generally not retained, regardless of their density. Larger MPs with densities marginally higher than water can instead be retained in the sediment. It is, however, anticipated that high flow periods can remobilize this pool. Sediments of river sections experiencing low stream power are likely hotspots for deposition of MPs. Exposure and impact assessments should prioritize these environments.
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Water pollution with large and small-scale plastic litter is an area of growing concern. Macro plastic litter is a well-known threat to aquatic wildlife; however, effects of micro and nano-sized plastic particles on the health of organisms are not well understood. Small scale plastic particles can easily be ingested by various aquatic organisms and potentially interfere with their immune system, therefore we used a freshwater fish species as a model organism for nanoplastic exposure. Characterization of polystyrene and polycarbonate nanoplastic (PS: 41.0 nm, PC: 158.7 nm) particles (PSNP and PCNP, respectively) in plasma was performed, and effects of PSNP and PCNP on the innate immune system of fathead minnow, were investigated. In vitro effects of PSNP and PCNP on neutrophil function were determined using a battery of neutrophil function assays. Exposure of neutrophils to PSNP or PCNP caused significant increase in degranulation of primary granules and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) release compared to a non-treated control, while oxidative burst was less affected, This study outlines the stress response of the cellular component of fish innate immune system to polystyrene and polycarbonate nanoparticles/aggregates and indicates their potential to interfere with disease resistance in fish populations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Sources, pathways and reservoirs of microplastics, plastic particles smaller than 5 mm, remain poorly documented in an urban context. While some studies pointed out wastewater treatment plants as a potential pathway of microplastics, none have focused on the atmospheric compartment. In this work, the atmospheric fallout of microplastics was investigated in two different urban and sub-urban sites. Microplastics were collected continuously with a stainless steel funnel. Samples were then filtered and observed with a stereomicroscope. Fibers accounted for almost all the microplastics collected. An atmospheric fallout between 2 and 355 particles/m2/day was highlighted. Registered fluxes were systematically higher at the urban than at the sub-urban site. Chemical characterization allowed to estimate at 29% the proportion of these fibers being all synthetic (made with petrochemicals), or a mixture of natural and synthetic material. Extrapolation using weight and volume estimates of the collected fibers, allowed a rough estimation showing that between 3 and 10 tons of fibers are deposited by atmospheric fallout at the scale of the Parisian agglomeration every year (2500 km²). These results could serve the scientific community working on the different sources of microplastic in both continental and marine environments.
Article
Male and female Syrian golden hamsters were exposed 6 h/day, S days/wk for up to 18 months to a special test toner, TiO2, and crystalline silica. The mass median aerodynamic diameters (MMAD) were about 4.0 μm for toner, 1.1 μm for TiO2, and 1.4 μm for silica. The target test aerosol exposure concentrations during the first 5 mo were 1.5, 6, and 24 mg/m3 (called toner low, toner medium, and toner high) for the test toner, 40 mg/m3 for TiO2, and 3 mg/m3 for SiO2. They were changed to 4, 16, and 64 mg/m3 for toner and 30 mg/m3 for TiO2 after 5 mo in order to achieve the desired lung burdens. Alveolar lung clearance was measured following inhalation of 85Sr-labeled polystyrene particles by the nose-only route at 3, 9, and 15 mo of the study. The results of these measurements were used to confirm the maximum functionally tolerated dose (MFTD) previously defined for rats. Clearance half-times of the polystyrene particles were substantially retarded at the toner high (males only) and in the TiO2 and SiO2 exposure groups. Pulmonary retention of toner and reference materials (TiO2 and SiO2) was measured after 3, 9, 15, and 18 mo and additionally after a 3-mo postexposure period. The quantity of all three materials retained in the lungs and lung-associated lymph nodes increased with exposure duration and level. The pulmonary burdens of toner at the three exposure levels and of TiO2 and SiO2 after 18 mo of exposure were 0.15, 0.87, 9.32, 19.6, and 1.7 mg/lung, respectively. In satellite groups, postexposure effects after 9 mo of exposure were followed in the female toner medium, toner high, and TiO2 group during a 6-mo clean air period. The clearance half-times were increased slightly in the toner medium group, moderately to strongly in the toner high group, and strongly in the TiO2 group calculated both for test materials and for [85Sr]polystyrene particles. These data are consistent with an overload concept on a volumetric basis for toner and TiO2. The excessive quantity of retained toner and the substantially retarded clearance in the toner high exposure group are indicative of 'lung overloading.'Both the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and the maximum functionally tolerated dose (MFTD) were exceeded at the toner high and the TiO2 exposure level during the study in hamsters.
Article
For decades we have learned about the physical hazards associated with plastic debris in the marine environment, but recently we are beginning to realize the chemical hazards. Assessing hazards associated with plastic in aquatic habitats is not simple, and requires knowledge regarding organisms that may be exposed, the exposure concentrations, the types of polymers comprising the debris, the length of time the debris was present in the aquatic environment (affecting the size, shape and fouling) and the locations and transport of the debris during that time period. Marine plastic debris is associated with a ‘cocktail of chemicals, including chemicals added or produced during manufacturing and those present in the marine environment that accumulate onto the debris from surrounding seawater. This raises concerns regarding: (i) the complex mixture of chemical substances associated with marine plastic debris, (ii) the environmental fate of these chemicals to and from plastics in our oceans and (iii) how this mixture affects wildlife, as hundreds of species ingest this material in nature. The focus of this chapter is on the mixture of chemicals associated with marine plastic debris. Specifically, this chapter discusses the diversity of chemical ingredients, byproducts of manufacturing and sorbed chemical contaminants from the marine environment among plastic types, the role of marine plastic debris as a novel medium for environmental partitioning of chemical contaminants in the ocean and the toxic effects that may result from plastic debris in marine animals. © 2015, Springer International Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
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Microplastics are small fragments of plastic debris that have accumulated in the environment on a global scale. They originate from the direct release of particles of plastic and as a consequence of the fragmentation of larger items. Microplastics are widespread in marine habitats from the poles to the equator; from the sea surface and shoreline to the deep sea. They are ingested by a range of organisms including commercially important fish and shellfish and in some populations the incidence of ingestion is extensive. Laboratory studies indicate�that ingestion could cause harmful toxicological and/or physical effects. However, our understanding of the relative importance of these effects in natural populations is very limited. Looking to the future it seems inevitable that the quantity of microplastic will increase in the environment, since even if we could stop new items of debris entering the ocean, fragmentation of the items already present would continue for years to come. The term microplastics has only been in popular usage for a decade and while many questions remain about the extent to which they could have harmful effects, the solutions to reducing this contamination are at hand. There are considerable synergies to be achieved by designing plastic items for both their lifetime in service and their efficient end-of-life recyclability, since capturing waste via recycling will reduce usage of non-renewable oil and gas used in the production of new plastics and at the same time reduce the accumulation of waste in managed facilities such as land fill as well as in the natural environment. © 2015, Springer International Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Article
The accumulation of plastic in the marine environment is a long-known issue, but the potential relevance of this pollution for the ocean has been recognised only recently. Within this context, microplastic fragments (<5 mm) represent an emerging topic. Owing to their small size, they are readily ingested by marine wildlife and can accumulate in the food web, along with associated toxins and microorganisms colonising the plastic. We are starting to understand that plastic biofilms are diverse and are, comparably with non-plastic biofilms, driven by a complex network of influences, mainly spatial and seasonal factors, but also polymer type, texture and size of the substratum. Within this context, we should raise the question about the potential of plastic particles to serve as vectors for harmful microorganisms. The main focus of the review is the discussion of first insights and research gaps related to microplastic-associated microbial biofilm communities.