Article

Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in?

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Abstract

The annual production of plastic textile fibers has increased by more than 6% per year, reaching 60 million metric tons, about 16% of world plastic production. The degradation of these fibers produces fibrous microplastics (MPs). Such MPs have been observed in atmospheric fallouts, as well as in indoor and outdoor environments. Some fibrous MPs may be inhaled. Most of them are likely to be subjected to mucociliary clearance; however, some may persist in the lung causing localized biological responses, including inflammation, especially in individuals with compromised clearance mechanisms. Associated contaminants such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) could desorb and lead to genotoxicity while the plastic itself and its additives (dyes, plasticizers) could lead to health effects including reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity and mutagenicity.

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... has the potential to cause adverse physical effects such as inflammation and genotoxicity, as well as chemical ramifications such as tissue damage and carcinogenicity (Wright and Kelly, 2017). Further, MPs are a vector of intentionally or unintentionally added chemicals that can exacerbate their toxicity and facilitate the transport of adsorbed contaminants (Gasperi et al., 2018;Mato et al., 2001;Ogata et al., 2009;Tourinho et al., 2019). Dose-response curves of MPs and their specific adverse human health consequences have not been determined and remain an important research gap (Eschenbacher et al., 1999;Mohamed Nor et al., 2021;Pauly et al., 1998;Warheit et al., 2001;Wright and Kelly, 2017) even though MPs exposure is widely accepted (Cox et al., 2019;Gasperi et al., 2018;Mohamed Nor et al., 2021;Prata, 2018;Soltani et al., 2021;Vethaak and Legler, 2021;Weiss et al., 2018;Zhang et al., 2020b). ...
... Further, MPs are a vector of intentionally or unintentionally added chemicals that can exacerbate their toxicity and facilitate the transport of adsorbed contaminants (Gasperi et al., 2018;Mato et al., 2001;Ogata et al., 2009;Tourinho et al., 2019). Dose-response curves of MPs and their specific adverse human health consequences have not been determined and remain an important research gap (Eschenbacher et al., 1999;Mohamed Nor et al., 2021;Pauly et al., 1998;Warheit et al., 2001;Wright and Kelly, 2017) even though MPs exposure is widely accepted (Cox et al., 2019;Gasperi et al., 2018;Mohamed Nor et al., 2021;Prata, 2018;Soltani et al., 2021;Vethaak and Legler, 2021;Weiss et al., 2018;Zhang et al., 2020b). Dris et al., 2015 first evaluated the atmosphere as a source of MPs distribution. ...
... Dris et al., 2015 first evaluated the atmosphere as a source of MPs distribution. Since then, several other researchers have examined MPs fallout in both indoor and outdoor atmospheric environments, as well as in street dust Dris et al., 2016;Gasperi et al., 2018;Gaston et al., 2020;Liu et al., 2019b;Soltani et al., 2021;Yukioka et al., 2020;Zhang et al., 2020c). Despite these efforts, measurement and analysis of MPs in atmospheric environments has received limited attention due largely to analytical limitations (Zhang et al., 2020d) and the challenge of sampling (Habibi et al., 2022). ...
Article
This international scale study measured the prevalence of indoor microplastics (MPs) in deposited dust over a 1-month period in 108 homes from 29 countries. Dust borne MPs shape, colour, and length were determined using microscopy and the composition measured using μFTIR. Human health exposure and risk was assessed along with residential factors associated with MPs via a participant questionnaire. Samples were categorised according to each country's gross national income (GNI). Synthetic polymers dominated in low income (LI) (39%) and high income (HI) (46%) while natural fibres were the most prevalent in medium income (MI) (43%) countries. Composition and correlation analysis indicated that main sources of MPs and dust were predominantly from indoor sources. Across all GNI countries, greater vacuuming frequency was associated with lower MPs loading. High income country samples returned higher proportions of polyamides and polyester fibres, whereas in LI countries polyurethane was the most prominent MPs fibre. Exposure modelling shows infants (0–2 years) were exposed to the highest MPs dose through inhalation (4.5 × 10⁻⁵ ± 3 × 10⁻⁵) and ingestion (3.24 × 10⁻² ± 3.14 × 10⁻²) mg/kg-Bw/day. Health risk analysis of constituent monomers of polymers indicates cancer incidence is estimated at 4.1–8.7 per million persons across age groups. This study's analysis showed socio-economic factors and age were dominant variables in determining dose and associated health outcomes of MPs in household dust.
... Biomass is an important heat source for residential heating, where it is used in the form of wood logs or pellets for boilers, stoves, and fireplaces [2]. The high emission load caused by PM 10 particles in biomass combustion makes it necessary to find a technical solution (incorporation of additives during fuel manufacturing or air supply regulation or technical measures at the boiler to filter these particles) to minimise the release of particles <0.1 mm, which account for 74-83% of PM 10 [3]. The formation of PM particles during combustion is influenced both by the properties of wood (moisture, concentrations of volatile combustibles, content of lignin and resins, porosity, density, and grain size of pore volume), the technical design of the boiler, and combustion conditions. ...
... Biomass is an important heat source for residential heating, where it is used in the form of wood logs or pellets for boilers, stoves, and fireplaces [2]. The high emission load caused by PM 10 particles in biomass combustion makes it necessary to find a technical solution (incorporation of additives during fuel manufacturing or air supply regulation or technical measures at the boiler to filter these particles) to minimise the release of particles <0.1 mm, which account for 74-83% of PM 10 [3]. The formation of PM particles during combustion is influenced both by the properties of wood (moisture, concentrations of volatile combustibles, content of lignin and resins, porosity, density, and grain size of pore volume), the technical design of the boiler, and combustion conditions. ...
... The rise in the price of fuels for residential heating and waste disposal charges is putting pressure on the use of banned fuels (plastics) in households. The issue of co-incineration of fuels with plastics is emerging globally as well as in many European countries, e.g., the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, and others [5,6] Coincineration of fuels with plastic waste is an important source of microand nanoplastics in the atmospheric environment [7][8][9], where they have a significant health effect [10][11][12]. ...
Article
The paper aims to find a way of simply identifying the addition of unauthorised waste (plastics) in residential boilers burning wood as the main fuel. The burning of plastics leaves a trace in char deposits, which are otherwise made up mostly of lignin breakdown products. Identification of combusted plastics in char deposits is made possible by determining unique organic compounds formed during the pyrolysis phase of combustion by pyrolysis gas chromatography. At temperatures above 800 °C, the amount of charring product from the incineration of PET is 19.5 wt%, while for PP, it is 5 wt%, and LDPE with HDPE 2.1 wt%. Combustion of polypropylene with wood has been verified by the presence of the compounds 2,4-dimethyl-1-heptene, 2-methyl-1-pentene, and 2,4,6-trimethyl-1-nonene. The thermal degradation of PE has been demonstrated by the presence of triplets of alkanes, alkenes, and alkadienes. Combustion of PET in domestic waste can be demonstrated by the presence of benzoic acid and its esters, benzoate compounds, and terephthalic acid. In summarising, sampling char in boilers and analysing samples for markers of plastics incineration could be used as a method for identification of unauthorised waste combustion by authorities.
... After water, concrete is the second most used material in the building construction [1][2][3]. The quality of aggregates, which make up 65-80 percent of the total quantity of concrete, have a significant impact on concrete strength [4]. By the end of 2025, the global materials construction industry expected a 59 percent growth in aggregate demand [5]. ...
... Plastic's widespread usage and manufacturing reached a total of 359 million tons in 2018 [15]. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a thick plastic composed of polycarbonate and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Plastics have become an essential part of our daily lives, and global plastic production has increased dramatically in the past 50 years. This has significantly increased the amount of plastic garbage produced. Researchers have recently been interested in using trash and recyclable plastics in concrete as an ecologically acceptable building material. A large number of publications have been published that describe the behavior of concrete, containing waste and recovered plastic com ponents. However, information is scattered, and no one knows how plastic trash behaves as concrete materials. This research examines the use of plastic waste (PW) as aggregate or fiber in cement mortar and concrete manufacturing. The article reviewed the three most significant features of concrete: fresh properties, mechanical strength, and durability. PW and cement connections were also studied using microstructure analysis (scan electronic microscopy). The results showed that PW, as a fiber, enhanced mechanical performance, but PW, as a coarse aggregate, impaired concrete performance owing to poor bonding. The assessment also identified research needs in order to enhance the performance of PW-based concrete in the future.
... Broadly speaking, associated contaminants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and phthalates, also known to have been identified in face masks ( Jin et al., 2021 ), could potentially desorb to elicit other health complications, including reproductive toxicity and mutagenicity ( Gasperi et al., 2018 ). More specifically, several studies on different face mask brands have reported the association and release of a wide range of additives such as endocrine disrupting UV stabilizers, nanofiber-infused engineered nanoparticles, heavy metals (e.g., Pb, Cd, Sb and Cu) and dyes ( Ardusso et al., 2021 ;Fukuoka et al., 2022 ;Sullivan et al., 2021 ). ...
... More specifically, several studies on different face mask brands have reported the association and release of a wide range of additives such as endocrine disrupting UV stabilizers, nanofiber-infused engineered nanoparticles, heavy metals (e.g., Pb, Cd, Sb and Cu) and dyes ( Ardusso et al., 2021 ;Fukuoka et al., 2022 ;Sullivan et al., 2021 ). Gasperi et al. (2018) further acknowledged that plastic microfibers are not strictly confined to outdoor environments but could also be found in indoor surroundings. Considering the tendency for people to remain unmasked while indoors at home, coupled with increased levels of indoor pollution during the heart of the lockdown, meant that the risk of exposure to a host of pollutants was amplified. ...
Article
Full-text available
Face mask-wearing as a public health measure has been practiced since the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak. Extensive research has shown that face masks are an effective non-pharmaceutical measure to contain the spread of respiratory infections. However, recent studies indicate that face masks release microplastics and other contaminants that have adverse health effects on humans. This communication reviews the evidence for face mask as a potential source of contaminants capable of adversely affecting human health. The benefits of face masks in reducing the transmission of SARS-Cov-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and seasonal communicable diseases were addressed. In addition, the risk of inhaling microplastics and organic contaminants, as well as the associated exposure level, were discussed. Finally, the potential research gaps that need to be addressed were outlined to provide a holistic view of the problem. This communication has illustrated that face mask-wearing as a public health measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 could be a potential risk factor for human health. Very few studies have been done on microplastics, organic pollutants, and trace metal inhalation from surgical masks. However, future work providing a comprehensive understanding of the risk and exposure levels needs to be undertaken.
... The length-to-diameter ratio of the majority of the material present was greater than 3:1. This could pose a health risk as the higher the ratio, the greater the likelihood of the MP entering the upper airways due to mucociliary clearance [18], while fibrous-shaped particles are generally considered more difficult to remove from the respiratory system [24]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Airborne microplastic (MP) is an emerging pollutant, still under-characterised and insufficiently understood. Detailed description of MP air pollution is crucial as it has been identified in human lungs and remote locations, highlighting atmosphere as medium of MP dispersion and transportation. The lack of standardization of methods for measuring and further monitoring of the MP pollution is an obstacle towards the assessment of health risks. Since the first recognition of MP presence in the atmosphere of Krakow in 2019, this research was conducted to further characterise and develop the methods for qualitative and quantitative analysis of airborne MP (ATR-FTIR, Pyr-GC-MS, SEM-EDS) and pre-treatment of samples.The data was gathered in seven cycles, from June 2019 to February 2020. Methods used in the study allowed the identification and analysis of the changing ratio of the different types of synthetic polymers identified in the atmospheric fallout (LDPE, Nyl-66, PE, PET, PP, PUR). Observations of interactions between MP particles and environment were made with analyses of surface changes due to the degradation. Mineral phases attached to the MPs’ surfaces, with some of the inorganic contaminants transported on these surfaces, determined to also be of anthropogenic origin.Methodology proposed in this study, allows further characterisation of MP from multiple locations to provide highly comparable data, leading to the identification of the sources of this phenomenon, as well as seasonal changes.
... 5 Since then, field surveys of settled microplastics and airborne microplastics have been reported in various countries. [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Although the number of studies on the concentration and type of microplastics in indoor environments has increased, the sampling and analysis methods are not unified, and the number of studies is still limited. Microplastic pollution in indoor air and on the surfaces of built environments may also be a concern in Japan; however, there have been no comprehensive field surveys in Japan. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although microplastic (size ≤5 mm) pollution in marine ecosystems has received global attention, the presence of microplastics and microfibers in indoor environments is also a major concern. Compared to the available field survey data on microplastics in the ocean, such information remains limited for indoor environments. Microplastics in indoor environments may act as adsorbents for chemical compounds, which may result in multiple adverse health effects on residents. Establishment of reproducible sampling and analysis methods aiding comprehensive field measurements of indoor microplastics in Japan is required. This study conducted the first field survey of indoor microplastics in settled dust in 10 residential houses in the Kanto area of Japan and explored their composition and morphology. Micro‐Fourier transform infrared (μ‐FT‐IR) spectrophotometry and laser direct infrared (LDIR) analysis were used for the qualitative analysis of microplastics. The μ‐FT‐IR and LDIR analyses revealed the presence of large quantities of microplastics in the settled dust. The samples were composed of cellulose, polyethylene terephthalate, polyethylene, alkyd resins, polysulfone, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyamides. The μ‐FT‐IR and LDIR analyses were suitable for identifying large fibrous materials and small particles, respectively. Thus, the two methods are complementary for the comprehensive identification of microplastic composition in settled dust.
... As they are easily produced, they account for a considerable proportion of microplastic pollution (Huber et al., 2022). Microplastic pollution has thus spread to remote plateaus, the north and south poles, and deep-sea trenches from urban rivers, lakes, and sewage wastewater treatment plants, from indoor and road air, and cultivated soil (Gasperi and Wright, 2018;Jiang et al., 2019;Wen et al., 2018;Yin et al., 2020;Yin et al., 2022). Microplastic pollution can also develop within living organisms including humans (Abbasi and Turner, 2021;Lv et al., 2019). ...
Article
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Although the influence of microplastics (MPs) in different soil environments has been investigated, their effects on the physiochemical properties and chemical speciation of heavy metals in yellow-brown soil remains unknown. This study aimed to determine the effects of various concentrations of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), polyamide (PA), polyurethane (PU), polystyrene (PS), and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) MPs on the yellow-brown soil environment and chemical speciation of the heavy metals cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). MPs influenced the physicochemical properties and chemical speciation of heavy metals in yellow-brown soil. The physicochemical properties of yellow-brown soil can be altered by changing the concentrations of LDPE MP. The relationship between changes in field capacity (FC) and LDPE concentrations was approximately linear. The physiochemical properties of yellow-brown soil containing added PA, PU, and LDPE MPs were substantially improved (control vs. MPs): FC, 39 % vs. 42.50 % for PU, cation exchange capacity (CEC) 45.77, 56.65, and 57.44 cmol.kg⁻¹ for PA, PU, and LDPE respectively, and organic matter (OM) content, 40.16 vs. 51.68 g.kg⁻¹ for PA. The LLDPE and PU MPs also simultaneously affected the chemical speciation of heavy metals in yellow-brown soil. The LLDPE MPs increased the acid-soluble (45.17–54.67 % (Cd-F1), 7.24–11.30 % (Cu-F1), 4.20–7.23 % (Pb-F1), 21.21–31.47 % (Zn-F1)) and reducible (24.02–29.41 % (Cd-F2), 25.69–34.95 % (Cu-F2), 74.29–81.07 % (Pb-F2), 28.77–34.19 % (Zn-F2)) fractions of heavy metals, which increased their bioavailability. However, PU MPs reduced the ecological risk of heavy metals in yellow-brown soil by increasing the content of the residual fraction (26.11–40.21 % (Cd-F4), 47.63–59.67 % (Cu-F4), 17.25–26.76 % (Pb-F4), 32.63–50.46 % (Zn-F4)). Changes in the properties of yellow-brown soil and the impact of MPs on heavy metals, might change the chemical speciation of heavy metals. The impact of MPs on heavy metals in yellow-brown soil requires further investigation.
... This can include an accumulation in the snowpack that is released in the spring during snowmelt events. Previous research has identified that atmospheric transport is an important source of microplastics, especially in urban areas (Dris et al., 2016;Cai et al., 2017;Dehghani et al., 2017) with fibers a major component of atmospheric microplastics (Dris et al., 2016(Dris et al., , 2017Gasperi et al., 2018). Furthermore, it represents the need to advance research on the contribution of microfibres (synthetic and anthropogenically modified) to microplastic pollution, especially in understudied compartments and geographical regions (Athey and Erdle, 2021). ...
Article
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Changes in microplastic concentrations were examined during various temporal events including heavy rain and snowmelt in a river and an urban stream receiving stormwater. Additionally, microplastic concentrations were measured in an urban river during an active combined sewage overflow event. Microplastic concentrations downstream of a combined sewage outfall were observed to increase seven times compared to ambient conditions. During heavy rainfall an increase of 50 times the microplastic concentration was observed in the urban creek with microplastic concentrations doubling in the urban river. However, the largest increase in microplastic concentration at both locations was observed during the primary snowmelt of spring, with microplastic concentrations increasing 114 times in the urban creek and 11 times in the urban river. These results suggest that more research is required to further establish the influence of both combined sewage overflows and snowmelt as a major temporal conduit of microplastics to freshwater environments.
... Recently, arguments surrounding the absence of evidence of the risks of nano-and microplastics to human health highlighted the need for greater research into the potential risks before assumptions are made (Leslie and Depledge, 2020;Gouin et al., 2021;Wardman et al., 2021). Given the health risks of particulate air pollution (such as from diesel exhaust fumes with a size of less than 2.5 μm), as well as the perpetual exposure to microplastics in the air we breathe (Gasperi et al., 2018;Prata, 2018), in drinking water and through direct contact, the topic is deserving of more attention (Vethaak and Legler 2021). ...
Thesis
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Plastic pollution is ubiquitous within the marine environment, found on coastlines, at the sea surface, within the water column, on the seafloor, in deep-sea sediments, and in sea ice at both Poles. However, the transport pathways and processes that determine the three-dimensional distribution of plastics in the global ocean are still not yet fully understood. In this thesis, the three-dimensional distribution of plastics is investigated using an ocean general circulation model, in a range of different scenarios. Firstly, the distribution of positively, neutrally, and negatively buoyant plastics in the global ocean with no processes of removal is explored. This reveals that plastics of different densities inhabit different regions of the ocean: buoyant plastics reside at the sea surface in subtropical gyres, with model results suggesting the possibility of an unreported ‘garbage patch’ in the Gulf of Guinea; neutrally buoyant plastics are present throughout the whole of the water column; negatively buoyant plastics sink and settle coastally, but are also transported to abyssal plains and trenches. Secondly, the accumulation and transport of microplastics in sea ice, in both the Arctic and Southern oceans is investigated. Arctic sea ice is most susceptible to buoyant microplastic pollution, with a predicted distribution reflecting observations, whereas Southern Ocean sea ice is more susceptible to neutrally buoyant microplastics, although observational evidence is too limited to validate these results. Finally, building upon existing modelling research, the effects of biofouling on the vertical and horizontal distribution of a range of small microplastics, both with and without the effects of strong vertical mixing are considered. The impact of density changes caused by biofouling are size-dependent and independent of vertical mixing, with 10 μm microplastics most affected by biofouling in the model. However, this is a complex problem with many variables to consider and requires further, detailed research. While this thesis has shed light on some aspects of the subject of marine microplastics, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of the global distribution and behaviour of marine plastics.
... MPs and their effects on the respiratory system. Particles deposition on deep lung seems attributable only to inhaled particles with size below 5 μm (Gasperi et al., 2018); however, micrometric MPs can be found as substances in the organic fraction of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) (Prata, 2018). ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) represent a worldwide emerging relevant concern toward human and environmental health due to their intentional or unintentional release. Human exposure to MPs by inhalation is predicted to be among the most hazardous. MPs include both engineered, or primary MPs, and secondary MPs, materials obtained by fragmentation from any plastic good. The major part of the environmental MPs is constituted by the second ones which are irregular in size, shape and composition. These features make the study of the biological impact of heterogenous MPs of extremely high relevance to better estimate the real toxicological hazards of these materials on human and environmental organisms. The smallest fractions of plastic granules, relying on the micron-sized scale, can be considered as the most abundant component of the environmental MPs and for this reason they are typically used to perform toxicity tests using in vitro systems representative of an inhalation exposure scenario. In the present work, MPs obtained from industrial treatment of waste plastics (wMPs, < 50 μm) were investigated, and after the physico-chemical characterization, the cytotoxic, inflammatory and genotoxic responses, as well as the modality of wMPs interactions with alveolar lung cells were determined. Obtained results indicated that, at high concentrations (100 μg/mL) and prolonged exposure time (48h), wMPs affect biological responses by inducing inflammation and genotoxicity, as a result of the cell-wMP interactions, also including the uptake of the smaller particles.
... All instruments and equipment used in the experiment were rinsed with deionized water and then cleaned three times with alcohol (75%). Since MPs are widely distributed in the indoor environment (Gasperi et al., 2018), the number of laboratory operators was minimized, and outdoor air circulation was reduced to avoid airborne MPs contamination in the laboratory. Operators scrubbed their hands and forearms with alcohol (75%) three times before the experiment, and were equipped with white cotton lab coats, disposable latex gloves and masks throughout the experiment. ...
Article
Full-text available
Clams are commercially important species and are a vital component of the offshore ecosystem. Investigations on microplastics (MPs) in clams have attracted public attention recently, for its ecological and food safety risks. However, knowledge gaps still exist regarding MPs in commercial clams from the intertidal zone of the South Yellow Sea (SYS), China, an important clam habitat. In this study, to investigate the distribution of MPs in clams of the SYS, four species of clams were collected from nine sites in different tide zones (high, middle, and low tides) in three coastal areas (Nantong, Yancheng and Lianyungang). The abundance and characteristics of MPs, including size, shape, color and composition, were determined using microscope and micro-Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Furthermore, to evaluate the MPs purification ability of clams, the abundance of MPs in various tissues was examined by microscopic observation after being purified in filtered seawater for 72 h. The results showed that there were significant differences in the abundance of MPs in clams from different regions, with the most serious pollution in the high-tide zone. Moreover, the lowest MPs abundance was found in Yancheng (5.07 ± 2.73 items/individual, 1.16 ± 0.78 items/g), while Lianyungang was found with the most abundant MPs (7.52 ± 2.68 items/individual, 3.94 ± 3.00 items/g). The size of MPs in Ruditapes philippinarum (1,329.99 μm) was significantly higher than in other species. The MPs in clams were characterized by fiber in shape, black-grey, blue-green and white-transparent in color and rayon in composition. Moreover, it was found that the MPs originally present in various tissues tended to migrate and accumulate into the mantle of the clam during depuration, and after 72 h of depuration, removing the mantle could reduce nearly half amount of microplastics in clams. Overall, our study revealed the microplastic distribution in commercial clams from the intertidal zone of the SYS and provided suggestions for the safety of aquatic production.
... However, these atmospheric synthetic (i.e., plastic) microfibres are often just a fraction of the total number of microfibres found during sampling, with other, non-synthetic, cellulosic microfibres frequently being reported Liu et al., 2019b;Wright et al., 2020). Despite the distinct differences in their composition, both types of atmospheric microfibres are thought to be primarily derived from textile fibres from various fabrics, clothing, carpets, and other upholstery ( Fig. 1) (Dris et al., 2017;Gasperi et al., 2018). In the environment, free-moving microplastics and microfibres can become airborne with strong winds, or by other mechanical processes, such as waves breaking in oceans (Allen et al., 2022a;Allen et al., 2020), or the energy generated by moving and braking vehicles (Brahney et al., 2021). ...
Article
Atmospheric microplastics have been widely reported in studies around the world. Microfibres are often the dominant morphology found by researchers, although synthetic (i.e., plastic) microfibres are typically just a fraction of the total number of microfibres, with other, non-synthetic, cellulosic microfibres frequently being reported. This study set out to review existing literature to determine the relative proportion of cellulosic and synthetic atmospheric anthropogenic (man-made) microfibres, discuss trends in the microfibre abundances, and outline proposed best-practices for future studies. We conducted a systematic review of the existing literature and identified 33 peer-reviewed articles from Scopus and Google Scholar searches that examined cellulosic microfibres and synthetic microfibres in the atmosphere. Multiple analyses indicate that cellulosic microfibres are considerably more common than synthetic microfibres. FT-IR and Raman spectroscopy data obtained from 24 studies, showed that 57% of microfibres were cellulosic and 23% were synthetic. The remaining were either inorganic, or not determined. In total, 20 studies identified more cellulosic microfibres, compared to 11 studies which identified more synthetic microfibres. The data show that cellulosic microfibres are 2.5 times more abundant between 2016 and 2022, however, the proportion of cellulosic microfibres appear to be decreasing, while synthetic microfibres are increasing. We expect a crossover to happen by 2030, where synthetic microfibres will be dominant in the atmosphere. We propose that future studies on atmospheric anthropogenic microfibres should include information on natural and regenerated cellulosic microfibres, and design studies which are inclusive of cellulosic microfibres during analysis and reporting. This will allow researchers to monitor trends in the composition of atmospheric microfibers and will help address the frequent underestimation of cellulosic microfibre abundance in the atmosphere.
... There are countless types of fibres, both of natural and industrial origin [25]. The latter can be distinguished as organic or inorganic (Table 1). ...
Chapter
Widespread contamination with microplastics (< 5 mm, MPs) has become an emerging global problem. Airborne microplastics and synthetic fibres contaminate the air we breathe, but their concentrations are highly influenced by sampling and analytical methodologies. This chapter reviews current pre-treatment and characterization techniques applied to airborne MPs. Pre-treatment of samples removes unwanted materials and selects MPs, avoiding interference from organic and/or inorganic materials. Identification or characterization of plastics is mostly based on visual identification, followed by spectroscopy methods. Additionally, great care must be taken regarding the cross contamination of samples with deposited microplastics originating from the laboratory air. It is urgent to define a validated standard protocol, which will contribute to a better understanding of sources and concentrations of airborne microplastics in the environment.
... However, long-term exposure to synthetic fibers might result in airway and lung diseases such as asthma, pneumothorax, alveolitis, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia (Pimentel et al., 1975). Persistent fiber inhalation may cause local biological responses that result in inflammation, which is a factor in cancer develop-ment (Gasperi et al., 2018). It is envisaged that workers in the synthetic textile sector who inhale fibers are at risk of developing pneumonia or blisters (Prata, 2018). ...
Article
While atmospheric microplastics have attracted scientific attention as a significant source of microplastic contamination in the environment, studies in large population centers remain sparse. Here we present the first report on the occurrence and distribution of atmospheric microplastics in Mexico City (Latin America's second most densely populated city), collected using PM10 and PM2.5 active samplers at seven monitoring stations (urban, residential, and industrial) during the dry and wet seasons of 2020. The results showed that microplastics were detected in all of the samples examined, with mean microplastic concentrations (items m⁻³) of 0.205 ± 0.061 and 0.110 ± 0.055 in PM10 and PM2.5, respectively. The spatial distribution of microplastics showed seasonal variation, with greater abundances in locations closer to industrial and urban centers. There was also a significant difference in microplastic concentrations in PM10 and PM2.5 between the dry and wet seasons. The mean PM2.5/PM10 ratio was 0.576, implying that microplastics were partitioned more towards PM2.5 than PM10 in Mexico City. Fibers were the most prominent shape (>75 %), and blue was the most common color (>60 %). The size characteristics indicated microplastics of varying lengths, ranging from 39 to 5000 μm, with 66 % being <500 μm. Metal contaminants such as aluminum, iron, and titanium were detected using SEM-EDX on randomly selected microplastics. The microplastics were identified as cellophane, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyamide, and cellulose (rayon) using ATR-FTIR spectral analysis. Our findings unravel the extent and characteristics of atmospheric microplastics in the Mexico City metropolitan area, which will aid future research to better understand their fate, transport, and potential health risks, demanding more investigations and close monitoring.
... MPs have been detected in processed foods, beer, seafood, and sugary drinks, among others. In addition to the digestive route, MPs/NPs can be inhaled and come into direct contact with the entire respiratory tract: the mucus layer, the pericyte layer, the ciliated and non-ciliated secretory cells, and the basal cells [14,15] Within the lungs, the epithelial cells covering the airway surfaces and alveoli are the first target cells for exposure to inhaled substances [16], with plastic particles causing lung inflammation and genotoxicity by chronic exposure [14]. There is also evidence from in vitro studies with lung epithelial cells that NPs may have adverse health effects by inducing oxidative stress and inflammatory responses, followed by cell death and epithelial barrier destruction, resulting in tissue damage and lung disease after chronic exposure [17]. ...
Article
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Emerging contaminants such as nanoplastics (NPs), as well as manufacturing by-products such as plasticizers, have gained global attention and concern due to their limited biodegradability and their potential impact on human health, in particular the effects on respiratory tissue. In parallel, in vitro cell culture techniques are key to the assessment and characterization of toxic effects and cellular mechanisms in different types of tissues and should provide relevant information to understand the hazardous potential of these emergent contaminants. This systematic review presents the main results on the current knowledge of the effects of NPs and plasticizers on lung cells, as assessed with the use of in vitro cell culture techniques. From the selected studies (n = 10), following the PRISMA approach, it was observed that cell viability was the most frequently assessed endpoint and that most studies focused on epithelial cells and exposures to polystyrene (PS). It was observed that exposure to NPs or plasticizers induces cytotoxicity in a dose-dependent manner, regardless of the size of the NPs. Furthermore, there is evidence that the characteristics of NPs can affect the toxic response by promoting the association with other organic compounds. As such, further in vitro studies focusing on the combination of NPs with plasticizers will be essential for the understanding of mechanisms of NPs toxicity.
... Defined as plastic particles with a diameter under 5 mm, microplastics (MPs) became a ubiquitous environmental pollutant present in marine and freshwater systems, soil, air and subsequently the food (Andrady 2017;Gasperi et al. 2018;Horton et al. 2017;Li et al. 2018a;van Raamsdonk et al. 2020;Zhou et al. 2021). While the immense amount of the scientific evidence on the hazards of the uncontrolled, irreversible, and long-term ecological risks due to MPs do exist for some coastal waters and sediments (SAM 2019), the implications of ...
Article
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With most of the plastics ever produced now being waste, slowly degrading and fragmenting in the environment, microplastics (MPs) have become an emerging concern regarding their presence in food and influence on human health. While many studies on marine ecotoxicology and the occurrence of MPs in fish and shellfish exist, research on the occurrence of MPs in other foods and their effect on human health is still in early-stage, but the attention is increasing. This review aimed to provide relevant information on the possible health effect of ingested MPs, the occurrence, and levels of MPs contamination in various foods and estimated exposure to MPs through food. Potential toxic consequences from exposure to MPs through food can arise from MPs themselves, diffused monomers and additives but also from sorbed contaminants or microorganisms that colonise MPs. Recent publications have confirmed widespread contamination of our food with MPs including basic and life-essential constituents such as water and salt providing the basis for chronic exposure. Available exposure assessments indicate that we ingest up to several hundred thousand MPs particles yearly.
... MPs and NPs are typically divided into primary and secondary according to their sources. Primary MPs and NPs are released into the environment as nurdles, pellets and granules, biobeads, fibers either accidently or intentionally (Vandermeersch et al., 2015;Gasperi et al., 2018;Dris et al., 2016;Zhang et al., 2020). These plastics are produced as intended products, wastes from manufacturing processes, or derivatives from the erosion and tearing in the use of large plastic products such as tires, wheels and boards. ...
Article
Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous sources of both contamination and pollution of the Anthropocene, and accumulates virtually everywhere on the planet. As such, plastic threatens the environment, the economy and human well-being globally. The related potential threats have been identified as a major global conservation issue and a key research priority. As a consequence, plastic pollution has become one of the most prolific fields of research in research areas including chemistry, physics, oceanography, biology, ecology, ecotoxicology, molecular biology, sociology, economy, conservation, management, and even politics. In this context, one may legitimately expect plastic pollution research to be highly interdisciplinary. However, using the emerging topic of microplastic and nanoplastic leachate (i.e., the desorption of molecules that are adsorbed onto the surface of a polymer and/or absorbed into the polymer matrix in the absence of plastic ingestion) in the ocean as a case study, we argue that this is still far from being the case. Instead, we highlight that plastic pollution research rather seems to remain structured in mostly isolated monodisciplinary studies. A plethora of analytical methods are now available to qualify and quantify plastic monomers, polymers and the related additives. We nevertheless show though a survey of the literature that most studies addressing the effects of leachates on marine organisms essentially still lack of a quantitative assessment of the chemical nature and content of both plastic items and their leachates. In the context of the ever-increasing research effort devoted to assess the biological and ecological effects of plastic waste, we subsequently argue that the lack of a true interdisciplinary approach is likely to hamper the development of this research field. We finally introduce a roadmap for future research which has to evolve through the development of a sound and systematic ability to chemically define what we biologically compare.
... MPs accumulate in the environment and increase stress on the marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems [4]. Several studies have evidenced their presence in the marine environment [5][6][7], aquatic sediments [8], freshwaters [9], soils [10] and the atmosphere [11,12]. MPs can act as a carrier of hydrophobic organic contaminants, transporting the pollutants inside the organisms through ingestion and subsequent chemical release. ...
Article
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Among microplastics (MPs), fibers are one of the most abundant shapes encountered in the aquatic environment. Growing attention is being focused on this typology of particles since they are considered an important form of marine contamination. Information about microfibers distribution in the Mediterranean Sea is still limited and the increasing evidence of the high amount of fibers in the aquatic environment should lead to a different classification from MPs which, by definition, are composed only of synthetic materials and not natural. In the past, cellulosic fibers (natural and regenerated) have been likely included in the synthetic realm by hundreds of studies, inflating “micro-plastic” counts in both environmental matrices and organisms. Comparisons are often hampered because many of the available studies have explicitly excluded the micro-fibers (MFs) content due, for example, to methodological problems. Considering the abundance of micro-fibers in the environment, a chemical composition analysis is fundamental for toxicological assessments. Overall, the results of this review work provide the basis to monitor and mitigate the impacts of microfiber pollution on the sea ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea, which can be used to investigate other basins of the world for future risk assessment.
... Atmospheric transport of microplastics affects the distribution of plastic pollution in both marine and terrestrial environments [31]. In the air, MPs bind to other pollutants such as mercury or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and are therefore considered a significant pollutant [32]. It is important to investigate the amount of airborne microplastics in wet and dry atmospheric deposition to evaluate the total load of microplastics entering the environment. ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) currently cause an environmental risk due to their transport to all components of the environment. The review article aims to evaluate and compare selected methods for the sampling of different matrices and detection of microplastics. To choose suitable sampling methods, the available equipment, goal of research, and kind of environment should be considered. Through the separation of microplastics from samples, NaI and ZnBr 2 can provide high recovery rates (99%) and tight error bars. There exist image analysis software and also computer vision based systems (e.g., SMACC) that can be used for the identification, automatic calculation, and classification of MPs in the environment with shorten data calculation time and reduction of human error. Fourier-transform infrared microscopy and Raman spectroscopy were found to be the most appropriate methods for the characterization of MPs.
... In addition, atmospheric MPs are more difficult to control relative to the MPs in waters and soils due to their diffusion, which could be more serious problems to the ecosystem [16,17,22]. For instance, indoor dust is an important source of human exposure to MPs [7,16,17,[23][24][25][26][27]. A very recent research revealed potential of atmospheric MPs to influence climate on a global scale, contributing to warming and cooling of the Earth's climate system [28]. ...
Chapter
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Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous in waters, sediments, organisms, and air, which has attracted serious attentions. This review of MPs in the air provides comprehensive presence of the MPs in indoor and outdoor atmospheric environments worldwide. In addition, this review also gives insight into partitioning of the airborne MPs in the atmospheric suspended particulates, fallouts, and dusts.
... Humidity affects particle adhesion to surfaces and impedes the movement of particles (Mukai et al., 2009). Larger particles are detected in dustfall as they settle faster than smaller particles and so tend to accumulate (Dris et al., 2017;Gasperi et al., 2018). ...
Article
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Concerns regarding the impacts of microplastics in the global environment have brought into focus the need to understand better their origins, transport, and fate. Wastewaters (WW) are important in this regard: discharges from households, commercial and industrial premises, and surface run-off deliver microplastics to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) via sewerage systems, through which they are removed along with sewage sludge or destined for release into the environment in treated effluent. This review provides a contemporary and critical analysis of factors influencing the quantities and composition of microplastics (MPs) reaching wastewater treatment plants, including both primary and secondary sources. Three specific areas of concern were highlighted. First, current legislation, where present, needs to address regulation of microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products that cross international borders. Secondly, accurate estimation of microplastics arising from some sources and activities (e.g., mis-managed waste and hand washing of textiles) is challenging and estimated contributions of associated microplastics remain unsatisfactory as a basis for management decisions. Thirdly, information relating to microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products used by male consumers is lacking and contributions of such products to wastewater remain uncertain. We recommend that (1) voluntary practices and programmes should be replaced with formal regulation to achieve compliance, and (2) the role of consumers’ behaviour in generating microplastics that are destined for wastewater treatment plants remains largely unknown and that more research in this domain is needed.
... Detrimental effects of NPs on human health such as DNA damage, metabolic disorders, and oxidative neurotoxicity have also been reported (Sangkham et al. 2022). Gasperi et al. (2018) reviewed that fibrous MPs are produced from the degradation of plastic textile fibers. These MPs last in the air and when inhaled they can cause inflammation. ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) have recently been recognized as potential pollutants and carriers for pathogens in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. They can carry microbial pathogens, hydrophobic organic compounds, persistent organic pollutants, and heavy metals on the surface of these particles leading to unwanted effects on living organisms. Their harmful effects on aquatic and terrestrial organisms have been well established. This includes damage to cell membranes, tissues, and physiological processes. Further, being highly persistent in natural ecosystems, they can amass in various environments over long periods of time. Their accumulation of MPs substantially depends on plastic usage and its management policies around the world; therefore , a closer look at the potential hazards and build-up of MPs is timely. Also, it is crucial to understand the significance of currently established methods on their removal from the ecosystem including activated sludge treatment, coagulation and flocculation, and removal via membrane bioreactors. Among them, constructed wetlands are considered an environmentally friendly technology with ease in operation and low cost that could efficiently remove MPs from wastewater. This article specifically compiles existing literature on the current understanding of MPs in the environment, their role as environmental carriers, interactions in natural ecosystems, the recent developments in their research, and the way forward.
... Interactions between MPs and the environment take place [19], resulting in heavy metal adsorption [20] and pesticide absorption into the surfaces of MPs [21]. Research is being conducted regarding toxicity of MPs so that their phytotoxic effects can be demonstrated [22], and increased antibiotic resistance [23], chemical composition and size of MPs play a key role regarding human health risks [24]. The current state of MP research does not reflect MP abundance in the environment [25]. ...
Article
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Airborne microplastic is an emerging and widespread pollutant yet is still under-characterisedand insufficiently understood. Detailed description of microplastic air pollution is crucial as it has been identified in human lungs and remote locations, highlighting the atmosphere as a medium of MP dispersion and transportation. The lack of standardization of methods for measuring and further monitoring of microplastic pollution is an obstacle towards assessment of health risks. Since the first recognition of MP presence in the atmosphere of Krakow in 2019, this research was conducted to further characterise and develop the methods for qualitative and quantitative analysis of airborne microplastic (attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR); pyrolysis-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py-GC–MS); scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy SEM-EDS) and pre-treatment of samples. The data were gathered in seven cycles from June 2019 to February 2020.The methods used in the study allowed the identification and analysis of the changing ratio of the different types of synthetic polymers identified in the atmospheric fallout (low density polyethylene, nylon-66, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate,polypropylene and polyurethane). Observations of interactions between microplastic particles and the environment were conducted with analyses of surface changes due to degradation. Different phases attached to the microplastics surfaces, with some of the inorganic contaminants transported on these surfaces determined also to be of anthropogenic origin. The methodology proposed in this study allows further characterisation of microplastic from multiple locations to provide highly comparable data, leading to identification of the sources of this phenomenon, as well as seasonal changes.
... Plastics are seeping into our bodies. Microscopic plastic fibres in the air wend their way into our lungs (Gasperi et al. 2018). Nano-and microplastics in food are taken up through our digestive tracts (Lundquist 2016;Volkheimer 1975). ...
Book
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There is virtually nowhere on Earth today that remains untouched by plastic and ecosystems are evolving to adapt to this new context. While plastics have revolutionized our modern world, new and often unforeseen effects of plastic and its production are continually being discovered. Plastics are entangled in multiple ecological and social crises, from the plasticization of the oceans to the embeddedness of plastics in political hierarchies. The complexities surrounding the global plastic crisis require an interdisciplinary approach and the materialities of plastic demand new temporalities of thought and action. Plastic Legacies brings together scholars from the fields of marine biology, psychology, anthropology, environmental studies, Indigenous studies, and media studies to investigate and address the urgent socio-ecological challenges brought about by plastics. Contributors consider the unpredictable nature of plastics and weigh actionable solutions and mitigation processes against the ever-changing situation. Moving beyond policy changes, this volume offers a critique of neoliberal approaches to tackling the plastics crisis and explores how politics and communicative action are key to implementing social, cultural, and economic change.
... As MPs are ubiquitous in aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric environments, humans are frequently exposed to them (Gasperi et al., 2018). An average intake ranging between 39000 and 52000 MP particles/person/year was estimated from food alone (Cox et al., 2019). ...
Article
Background Microplastics (MPs) contaminate the global marine and terrestrial ecosystems. This environmental contamination can enter the food chain, with MPs found in drinking water, fishery products and other food categories. Consequently, ingestion is considered the main route of human exposure to MPs. Concerns exist on the potential of MPs to act as vectors for pathogenic bacteria, possibility threatening microbial food safety. Scope and approach Starting from the current evidence on foodborne pathogens associated with MPs, we review the state of knowledge on the putative role of MPs in enhancing harmful bacterial traits and transporting them to humans. Finally, we focus on the simultaneous uptake of MPs and pathogens in the human gut. Key findings and conclusions Overall, we identify major knowledge gaps, both on the mechanisms and the possible health outcomes. The scarce and inconclusive results regarding the effect of MPs on microbial virulence and evolution, together with the insufficient knowledge about the attachment of microbial toxins to MPs, highlight the need for further studies. We conclude that biofilm-coated MPs in foodstuffs may pose several risks to food safety, but further research will be essential to determine the extent of their effect on human health.
... Recent studies have observed microplastics, the majority of which were microfibers, in the French Pyrenees, the Italian Alps and in snow samples from the Arctic [12,13]. While these studies suggest that atmospheric transport may be an important source of microplastic pollution in otherwise pristine areas far and wide, little is understood about the sources of airborne microfibers, their transport and deposition [8,14]. ...
Article
Microplastics, particularly microfibers, are ubiquitous, found in aquatic (freshwater and marine) and terrestrial environments and within the food web worldwide. It is well-established that microplastics in the form of textile fibers enter the environment via washing machines and wastewater treatment effluent. Less is known about the release of microfibers from electric clothes dryers. In this study we measure microfiber emissions from home installed dryers at two different sites. At each site the distribution of fibers landing on the snow’s surface outside dryer vents and the weight of lint in dryer exhaust exiting dryer vents were measured. Fibers from the pink polyester fleece blankets used in this study were found in plots throughout a 30ft (9.14m) radius from the dryer vents, with an average number across all plots of 404 ± 192 (SD) (Site 1) and 1,169 ± 606 (SD) (Site 2). The majority of the fibers collected were located within 5 ft (1.52m) of the vents. Averages of 35 ± 16(SD)mg (Site 1) and 70 ± 77 (SD)mg (Site 2) of lint from three consecutive dry cycles were collected from dryer vent exhaust. This study establishes that electric clothes dryers emit masses of microfiber directly into the environment. Microfiber emissions vary based on dryer type, age, vent installation and lint trap characteristics. Therefore, dryers should be included in discussions when considering strategies, policies and innovations to prevent and mitigate microfiber pollution.
Article
Nowadays, the widespread distribution of microplastics (MPs) in various foods has received much attention. In this study, eggs were purchased as samples from local supermarkets to detect and analyze the presence of MPs. The digestion method was optimized for eggs to better isolate MPs, which proved MPs indeed exist in eggs, and the average content was 11.67 ± 3.98 particles/egg. The shape and size range of most MPs were spherical and 50-100 μm. The infrared results showed that the main type of MPs in eggs was polyethylene. The number of MPs in egg yolk was higher than that in egg white, and there was no significant change after cooking. In addition, the daily human intake of MPs was estimated. Therefore, the results of this study provided a background for the current status and pollution of MPs in eggs, and proposed the necessary control and preventive measures to avoid this situation.
Article
The threat of microplastic (MP) pollution to our ecosystem is well established. The presence of natural, regenerated, and synthetic fragmented fibres (FF) and their abundance in terrestrial and aquatic environments has been extensively reported. All textiles release FF during their lifecycle, not limited to plastics, which find their way to the environment through different dispersal pathways. Beyond the nature of the polymer, the FF can also can be a carrier of hazardous chemicals. The ubiquitous nature of MPs (and FF) has widely placed them as one of the most enduring and pervasive anthropogenic pollutants. This review is focused on FFs generated and released from textiles during wet (predominantly laundering) and dry exposure conditions. A summary and critical analysis of the current methods to generate, collect, measure, and characterise FF from textile laundry effluent is presented. The impact of key parameters on the release of FF is summarised; including washing equipment/conditions, filtration procedures, characterisation techniques, and the effect of textile materials and structure. The results from key publications are tabulated for direct comparisons, this includes estimated number of FF released per washing cycle and length distribution profile. Though the wet route of release has gained more attention, the release through dry routes is also significant. Hence, a detailed overview of the collection and characterisation of FF from dry routes (atmospheric deposition and textile abrasion) was important. Finally, a comprehensive overview of latest research and industrially-applied mitigation strategies to limit the release of FF from textile sources during laundry is included. The impact of MPs (and FF) is briefly outlined covering the environment, human health and degradation. Improved plastics with reduced environmental impact, plastic recycling and reduced consumption are vital. Still, the release of FFs from textiles remains a challenge since their production is unintentional.
Article
Plastics, micro- and nano-plastics pollution are undoubtedly a severe and crucial ecological threat due to the durability of plastics and their destructive impacts on humans and wildlife. Most scientific investigations have addressed the classification, types, distribution, ingestion, fate, impacts, degradation, and various adverse effect of plastics. Heretofore, scanty reports have addressed implementing strategies for the remediation and mitigation of plastics. Therefore, in this paper, we review the current studies on the degradation of plastics, micro- and nano-plastics aided by microorganisms, and explore the relevant degradation properties and mechanisms. Diverse microorganisms are classified, such as bacteria, fungi, algae, cyanobacteria, wax worms, and enzymes that can decompose various plastics. Furthermore, bio-degradation is influenced by microbial features and environmental parameters; therefore, the ecological factors affecting plastic degradation and the resulting degradation consequences are discussed. In addition, the mechanisms underlying microbial-mediated plastic degradation are carefully studied. Finally, upcoming research directions and prospects for plastics degradation employing microorganisms are addressed. This review covers a comprehensive overview of the microorganism-assisted degradation of plastics, micro- and nano-plastics, and serves as a resource for future research into sustainable plastics pollution management methods.
Article
Nanoplastic particles (NPs) can be produced or derived from the degradation of several daily used products and can therefore be found in the air, water, and food. Every day, these microscopic particles are confronted by different routes of exposure. Recent investigations have shown the internalization of these particles, differing in size and modification, in vivo in aquatic organisms and terrestrial organisms, as well as in vitro in different human cell lines. During the last years, the number of studies investigating the effects of NPs using widely different model systems and experimental approaches is exponentially growing, thus providing information about NPs, especially about polystyrene particle toxicity on health. To facilitate the grasping of the most relevant information, an overview is provided on the toxic effects of NPs coming from studies in cellular systems and in vivo in model organisms and on aspects which can be of particular relevance for particle toxicity (e.g., particle internalization mechanisms and structural modifications). Major achievements and gaps in the field as well as the point of view on how more systematic studies and exploitation of in vivo model organisms may improve the knowledge on important aspects of NPs are also pointed out. Nanoplastic particles (NPs) are everywhere in the environment raising the concern about their possible risks for humans. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the described toxic effects of NPs in mammalian cells and model organisms. Major achievements and gaps are discussed and studies in model organisms, e.g., C. elegans, are suggested to unravel important aspects of NPs in vivo.
Chapter
Microplastics (MPs) are minuscule plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in length that have become a significant threat to because of their toxicity in our natural environment and detrimental impacts on our water resources, aquatic life, and humans. Physical, chemical, ecological, and biological impacts are all possible ways of causing dangers posed by MPs. Microplastics also sorb and collect potentially toxic contaminants in aquatic environments. As a result, ingesting polluted microplastics may expose marine species and even the food chain to hazardous contaminants. However, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are the primary source of microplastics that enter marine ecosystems. Microplastics in aquatic environments must be controlled to protect the environment and human health. This chapter examines the sources of microplastics in wastewater, their properties, ecotoxicity, and health risks, existing and newly developed methods for characterization of microplastics in wastewater, and for pollution prevention and control, bioremediation techniques for the removal of microplastics from wastewater have been developed.KeywordsWastewaterMicroplasticsToxicityHealth hazardsCharacterizationBioremediation
Chapter
Large‐scale production and use of plastics began around 1950, and since then they have become increasingly ubiquitous materials due to their combination of useful properties, including cost‐effectiveness, low density, ease of processing, water‐resistance, and durability. Microplastics in environmental samples are frequently categorized in terms of their chemical identity, color, and morphology. Despite improvements in recycling technology, the plastics economy is largely linear; some plastics are unsuitable for recycling, many plastic items are improperly disposed of by users, either as litter or into incorrect waste streams, and potentially recyclable plastic waste is sent to landfill or discharged to rivers and oceans on enormous scales. water treatment plants are significant point sources of microplastic contamination into the aquatic environment, deriving from sources including fibers and fragments of artificial textiles in washing machine run‐off, and particles from tire wear and other plastic fragments on urban surfaces.
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Micro‐ and nanoplatics have been already reported to be potential carcinogenic/mutagenic substances that might cause DNA damage, leading to carcinogenesis. Thus, the effects of micro‐ and nanoplastics exposure on human health are currently being investigated extensively to establish clear relationships between those substances and health consequences. So far, it has been observed that there exists a definite correlation between exposure to micro‐ and nanoplastic particles and the onset of several cancers. Therefore, we have conducted research using PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases, searching for all the research papers devoted to cancers that could be potentially related to the subject of exposure to nano‐ and microplastics. Ultimately, in this paper, we have discussed several cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, biliary tract cancer, and some endocrinerelated cancers.
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This study shows the abundance of contamination by plastic microfibers (PMs) and the first record of contamination by PMs in bats. Additionally, we tried to understand the mechanism of the environmental contamination of bats. Therefore, the digestive and respiratory tracts of 25 species of adult bats were extracted for analysis. Bats were captured in different locations in the Brazilian Amazon (Altamira, Bragança, Brasil Novo, Medicilândia, Nova Timboteua, Placas, Uruará and Vitória do Xingu, all in the state of Pará). The results showed that all species were contaminated with PMs in at least one of the analyzed systems. For the digestive system, the form of contamination occurs through bioaccumulation and biomagnification by the ingestion of contaminated food or water. While for the respiratory system, contamination occurs through the inhalation of PMs suspended in the atmospheric air. The different foraging characteristics of bats, the type of capture strategy for this food, and the type of habitat reinforce the idea that plastic contaminants are present in all environments.
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Microplastics are ubiquitous in aquatic ecosystems globally, with tropical freshwater systems underrepresented in the literature. The ubiquity of microplastics may affect the feeding, growth, reproduction, and survival of organisms in aquatic systems; however, the data on the potential effects of microplastics on aquatic organisms is tentative. In the current study, I conducted a meta-analysis using published data to examine the impacts of microplastic exposure on functional traits (i.e., feeding, growth, reproduction, survival) of fish and aquatic invertebrates. The data revealed that while there were within-taxa negative effects on traits such as reproduction and growth some effect sizes were low, suggesting that the exposure to microplastics may vary across taxa. Globally, negative effects on growth, reproduction, and even survival were evident in some taxa (e.g., bivalves, crustaceans). Considering feeding habits, negative effects of microplastic were more pronounced in bacterivores, omnivores, predators, and filter feeders compared to shredders. In tropical freshwater systems, microplastics had no significant effects on the feeding, growth, reproduction, and survival of aquatic organisms. It is worth noting that organisms that are passive feeders (e.g., bivalves) may be particularly susceptible to microplastic pollution, which in turn may have long-lasting effects on the stability of lacustrine and lotic food webs. Because microplastics may impart more chronic effects than acute effects, future works must include understudied regions of the world (e.g., freshwater systems) and must emphasize the subtle role that microplastics may play on the physiology and behavior of organisms in the long term.
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Measurements of ultrafine microplastics and nanoplastics (UFMNP) on the single polymer level in ambient particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) were performed for an urban sampling site in Graz, Austria. During the sampling period of 02.01. – 31.03.2017 the average UFMNP concentration was 238 ng/m 3 , reaching up to 557 ng/m 3 . This accounts for an average contribution of 0.67% to PM 2.5 mass and 1.7% of organic matter. The individual polymer types were polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), which sum up the most demanded polymer types in Europe. PET was found to be the most prominent polymer in the urban samples contributing to 50% of the overall UFMNP mass, followed by PP (27%) and PE (23%). However, the relative contributions vary with time. PET was observed during the entire time period, while PP and PE were quite variable and linked to the origin of the air masses. A possible carrier function of PP and PE for selected micropollutants can be deduced from the significant monotonic correlations between these polymers and selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, predominantly low molecular weight congeners.
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Faz muito tempo que o plástico foi introduzido na nossa sociedade, com um uso sempre crescente. Ele está em praticamente tudo que consumimos e nos acompanha em quase todos os momentos de nossa vida. O plástico pode ser observado em diversas cores e formatos, no interior dos carros, nos diversos tipos de embalagens que utilizamos, empregadas na indústria alimentícia, de remédios, nos supermercados, nos hospitais, nas feiras, etc. Vestimos ele, passamos micropartículas de plástico nas nossas bocas, para auxiliar na limpeza de nossos dentes. São copos e garrafas de inúmeros volumes, canudos, sacos plásticos, bolsas, fios, bolas, tubos de todas as bitolas, brinquedos e outros inúmeros formatos e para centenas de diferentes usos. No dia a dia, é praticamente impossível escapar dos plásticos. Em decorrência disso, os plásticos podem ser encontrados dentro dos rios, nos reservatórios, nos mares, nos seus sedimentos, no interior de cavernas, no topo das montanhas mais altas, no ar, nas areias dos desertos e também dentro dos animais e dos seres humanos, mas com políticas públicas e ações pessoais podemos reduzir o seu uso. Os estudos recentes sugerem que a seguir com o uso generalizado que fazemos, e com o pouco cuidado que temos no adequado reuso ou descarte daqueles plásticos que consideramos desnecessários, o plástico tem o potencial de ser o mais importante contaminante ambiental do planeta. No entanto, por ora, particularmente no Brasil, não há legislação que determine monitorar a sua presença nos ecossistemas, visando avaliar seus impactos para a qualidade desses ecossistemas e para a qualidade de vida da biota e dos seres humanos. Mas há extrema necessidade não só para o tema ser pautado na mídia, mas que se criem legislações nacionais e internacionais, visando avaliar a quantidade de plásticos presentes nos ecossistemas, mas que também permitam acompanhar os impactos que causam, além de propor formas de reuso e de descartes adequados. Ao mesmo tempo, estas normativas também deverão permitir criar mecanismos que visem mitigar os problemas encontrados, protegendo os ambientes menos impactados e recuperando aqueles mais comprometidos. Este pequeno livro vem suprir uma lacuna na literatura nacional, pois muito pouco há sobre a temática de microplástico. São capítulos que refletem as experiências dos seus autores, discorrendo sobre a presença de plásticos nos rios, mares, mangue ou reservatórios e com sínteses de estudos em laboratório ou in situ, entre outros temas. Com esta contribuição, espera-se incentivar novos estudos, permitindo constituir grupos de pesquisas em todo o território brasileiro, estudando plásticos e seus impactos em todos os biomas nacionais, e auxiliando na elaboração de políticas públicas.
Article
This study investigated the effect of polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride microplastics on the UV fluence response curve for the inactivation of multidrug-resistant E. coli and enterococci in ultrapure water at pH 6.0 ± 0.1. In the absence of microplastics, the UV inactivation of the studied bacteria exhibited an initial resistance followed by a faster inactivation of free (dispersed) bacteria, while in the presence of microplastics, these 2 regimes were followed by an additional regime of slower or no inactivation related to microplastic-associated bacteria (i.e., bacteria aggregated with microplastics resulting in shielding bacteria from UV indicated by tailing at higher UV fluences). The magnitude of the negative effect of microplastics varied with different microplastics (type/particle size) and bacteria (Gram-negative and Gram-positive). Results showed that when the UV transmittance of the microplastic-containing water was not taken into account in calculating UV fluences, the effect of microplastics as protectors of bacteria was overestimated. A UV fluence-based double-exponential microbial inactivation model accounting for both free and microplastic-associated bacteria could describe well the disinfection data. The present study elucidated the effect of microplastics on the performance of UV disinfection, and the approach used herein to prove this concept may guide future research on the investigation of the possible effect of other particles including nanoplastics with different characteristics on the exposure response curve for the inactivation of various microorganisms by physical and chemical disinfection processes in different water and wastewater matrices.
Chapter
The worldwide utilization of plastic products has produced enormous quantity of plastic wastes. On entering the environment, plastic wastes continuously break down to small fragments like microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs). This chapter provides information on the occurrence of MPs/NPs in drinking water and food items, their source of entry, and detection methods in samples. Current techniques for removal of NPs and MPs in drinking water treatment plants have been discussed with challenges associated with them. Concentration of NPs and MPs in drinking water and food items for different countries have been provided with their impact on human health and aquatic environment. Finally, solutions for precise detection of MPs/NPs in samples and their effective removal in water treatment plants have been provided with future research directions.
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A poluição por plásticos constitui hoje um dos principais problemas ambientais associados aos ambientes aquáticos de água doce. Essa problemática, reforçada pela produção de materiais plásticos, aumenta a cada ano e pelo fato de que grande parte do que é produzido é disposto inadequadamente no ambiente natural. Além disso, estes poluentes possuem características que os tornam altamente resistentes no ambiente e impactos negativos já têm sido reportados sobre a biota aquática. Nas últimas décadas, a presença de partículas plásticas diminutas nos ecossistemas constitui uma nova face dessa problemática ambiental. Os microplásticos, como são chamadas estas partículas, possuem dimensões menores que 5 mm e podem ser gerados a partir de processos industriais ou ainda por agentes ambientais. O presente capítulo traz uma breve abordagem acerca das características, origens, distribuição e impactos dos microplásticos sobre os ambientes aquáticos.
Article
Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastic (NPs) pollution is a global concern due to the massive use of plastic products. Although there have been many studies on the treatments of animals with MPs/NPs, there are few systematic summaries of MPs/NPs translocation and hazards in animals. This review comprehensively summarizes the pathways by which animals are exposed to MPs/NPs in the environment, in particular, to summarize in detail their translocation and hazards in vivo. Studies have shown that MPs/NPs enter the animals' body through water, food, breath and even skin, enter the blood circulation through the lungs and digestive tract, and eventually accumulate in various tissues. After a summary of the studies, we found a high correlation between the tissue accumulation of MPs/NPs and their particle size, with 4–20 μm MPs appearing to be more prone to accumulate in tissues. These MPs/NPs accumulated in animal tissues may be transferred to humans through the food chain. Thus, we summarized the studies on the accumulation of MPs/NPs in livestock and poultry products, showing that MPs/NPs in livestock and poultry products gradually increased with the complexity of processing and packaging processes. There are few reports related to direct contamination of livestock products by MPs/NPs, we hope that this review will bring together the growing body of evidence that MPs/NPs can directly harm human health through the food chain.
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Plastic pollution is considered one of the most threatening environmental issues of the 21st century. Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) have significantly contributed to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and hence it has an impact on climate change. Methane and ethylene are the two main greenhouse gases that are produced from the most used plastics when exposed to ambient solar radiation. On the one hand, the pollution caused by the MP and NP can impact the gas exchange and CO2 circulation, resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, climate change has an impact on MPs and NPs. For example, the terrestrial plastic, windborne plastic, plastic resuspension from sediment, and plastic persistence have been increased because of the impact of the climate change. The interactions between plastic pollution and climate change have yet to be entirely understood as this topic has only recently gained attention. Literature showed that the interactions between plastic pollution and climate change are significant and cannot be overlooked. It has been proven that MPs have deleterious effects on the environment that cannot be ignored. There are some efforts of mitigating the potential impact of MPs on the environment such as recycling the plastics and ocean plastic clean-up.
Article
Here the role of microplastic size on dissolved organic matter, leaching compounds and microbial community during anaerobic sludge digestion was evaluated. Compared to that without the addition of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), during the 30 days' incubation, the anaerobic sludge digestion by adding PVC at the size of 75 μm and the concentration of 2.4 g/g volatile solids (VS) showed a 8.5% lower cumulative methane production, while a 17.9% higher cumulative methane production was noted by adding PVC at the size of 3000 μm and the concentration of 2.4 g/g VS. A long-term fed-batch laboratory-scale fermenter test for 147 days further testified, that higher removal efficiencies of total solids, volatile solids, and total chemical oxygen demand, and higher methane production were noted by adding PVC (2.4 g/g VS, 3000 μm) into the fermenter. More interestingly, higher concentrations of proteins, polysaccharides, volatile fatty acids, and soluble microbial by-products component were noted in the liquid phase of sludge drawn from the fermenter added with PVC since the biomass therein showed higher efficiencies of solubilization, hydrolysis, acidification, and methanogenesis. Moreover, as identified from the fermenter added with PVC, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) was the most predominant leaching phthalates compound, although the biomass therein showed a 93.4% anaerobic biodegradability of DBP. The leaching of DBP drove the predominance of microbial community towards Synergistota and Methanosaeta. More irregular elliptical shallow dimples were noted on the PVC surface after 147 days' incubation, accompanied with abundances of Proteobacteria, Actinobacteriota, Chloroflexi, Methanosaeta and Methanobacterium. The results from this study showed that the size of microplastic was a crucial factor in evaluating its impact on anaerobic sludge digestion.
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Despite the recent advances, the impact of microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) in the environment is poorly understood. In addition to the negative effects of these plastics alone, MPs and NPs have ecotoxicological impacts as vectors because of the adsorption of existing co-contaminants. Weathering of plastics can result in the release of plastic additives and monomers that can have additional adverse effects on environment and biota. Moreover, these minute plastic particles in environment can behave as vectors for the transfer of pathogenic microbial communities. In this chapter, we critically discuss the fate and toxicity of the chemicals adsorbed and released by the MPs and NPs in aquatic environment. Then, their ecotoxicological effects on aquatic biota and human health are considered, including their routes of exposure and cellular responses against them. Later, the transfer of microbial communities with MPs and NPs is focussed along with the challenges and future perspectives.
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In this study, the influence of the plastisphere on metals accumulation and weathering processes of polystyrene (PSMPs) and nylon microplastics (NyMPs) in polluted waters during a 129 day-assay were studied. MPs were characterized through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD), attenuated total reflectance Fourier transformed infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, contact angle, and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Also Cr, Mn, Zn, Cd, Pb, and Cu in the plastisphere on MPs were analyzed during the assay. Potentially pathogenic Vibrio, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas spp. were abundant in both MPs. Ascomycota fungi (Phona s.l., Alternaria sp., Penicillium sp., and Cladosporium sp.), and yeast, were also identified. NyMPs and PSMPs exhibited a decrease in the contact angle and increased their weights. SEM/EDX showed weathering signs, like surface cracks and pits, and leaching TiO2 pigments from NyMPs after 42 days. XRD displayed a notorious decrease in NyMPs crystallinity, which could alter its interaction with external contaminants. Heavy metal accumulation on the plastisphere formed on each type of MPs increased over the exposure time. After 129 days of immersion, metals concentrations in the plastisphere on MPs were in the following order Cr ˃ Mn ˃ Zn ˃ Cu ˃ Pb ˃ Cd, demonstrating how the biofilm facilitates metal mobilization. The results of this study lead to a better understanding of the impact of marine plastic debris as vectors of pathogens and heavy metals in coastal environments.
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A introdução de contaminantes de diversas classes nos ecossistemas tem se intensificado, sendo atualmente o plástico o material mais descartado. Dentre todos os ambientes, o meio aquático vem sendo bastante impactado pela presença desse resíduo, já que os organismos que ali vivem acabam tendo uma exposição corpórea mais intensa. Os polímeros plásticos têm sua ocorrência descrita desde toda a linha costeira até fundos oceânicos, sendo considerado onipresente no mar. Seus formatos menores, denominados de microplásticos (MPs), geram ainda mais impacto à natureza e aos organismos, já que podem se dispersar facilmente pelo ambiente, carreando poluentes e adsorvendo substâncias, de acordo com sua composição e condições físico-químicas do ambiente (pH, salinidade, matéria orgânica, entre outras). Gerando impactos de maneira direta aos organismos pela ingestão da partícula ou de maneira indireta, pelo contato com seus lixiviados presentes nas matrizes ambientais (água e sedimento), podendo acarretar em efeitos letais e subletais a biota. A toxicidade dos MPs vem sendo avaliada, e apesar de ainda haver muitas lacunas para a compreensão deste fenômeno, relatos já demonstram sua capacidade de gerar efeitos desde o nível bioquímico até danos teciduais. Com o atual cenário da poluição por MPs em ambientes costeiros e marinho, se fazem necessários a realização de mais estudos para compreender o real impacto das partículas plásticas, bem como auxiliar no desenvolvimento e implementação de ações e políticas públicas para combater os impactos dos microplásticos nestes ecossistemas.
Article
Microplastic (MP) exposure in the environment has been commonly demonstrated to have adverse effects on human health. The majority of studies on MP were related to the aquatic and terrestrial systems, its potential risk for ecosystem and human health when exposed to the atmosphere is not well-understood. The presented study, taking Xi'an, a megacity in Northwest China, as an example, first estimated the possibility of local residents bearing MPs pollution. The results figured out an average abundance of MPs in TSP, PM10, and PM2.5 was 12.5, 3.5 and 0.8 particles/L, respectively. A total of 15 polymer types of MPs were identified in the atmosphere. Although a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) approach is acknowledged to be useful to estimate the potential risk of pollutants, the result of SSD when used to evaluate the risk of MPs is debatable. In this study, SSD-based risk assessment showed that the atmospheric MP pollution in Xi'an had not yet reached the level of threatening human. However, unlike chemicals, it is unreliable to assess risk using the relationship of dose-response for MPs because toxic effects of MPs can be influenced by not only the abundance but also the characteristics, e.g., morphological size, shape and oxidative potential. Since insufficient mechanistic understanding regarding the relative relationship between MP characteristics and their toxic effects and limitation of the quality and relevance of toxicity data, the uncertainty of risk assessment of the atmospheric MPs is inevitable and the risk of the atmospheric MPs was tended to be underestimated. This poses a challenge to manufacturers and public health authorities, as well as researchers alike, however, we are already being exposed to the atmospheric MPs.
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A large amount of the globally produced plastics are not treated and are eventually released into landfills or natural environments, including surface waters. The plastics that enter the aquatic environment are very often microplastics, which are produced in households by the slow degradation or abrasion of plastic products, or as whole plastic products, which eventually degrade (abrasion, photodegradation). Together with microplastics, other pollutants such as pharmaceuticals of various kinds enter surface waters—both of these counterparts can interact with each other as well as with organic and inorganic molecules available in the natural environment. The aim of this study was to identify the interaction of microplastics with pharmaceuticals, especially under conditions that are common in inland waters as well as the seas and oceans that the rivers feed their water into. It was found that salinity has a great impact on the sorption capacity of microplastics and pharmaceuticals. The sorption of naturally occurring humic substances (humic and fulvic acids) can greatly increase when the microplastic–pharmaceutical complex is formed; however, the priority of the interaction happens with pharmaceuticals and humic substances. Such complexes can influence the organisms that feed on small organic-matter particles, as they can be mistaken for food and thus be transferred throughout the food chain.
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Microplastics are ubiquitous in various environments and have become a global environmental issue. Since atmospheric microplastics can be directly inhaled into the human body and pose health risks, it has aroused public concern. Recent years, microplastics in the atmosphere have been studied in some area. However, the research on detecting airborne microplastics worldwide and revealing their health effect is still limited, which has affected the public's further understanding of atmospheric microplastics. In this chapter, we summarize the current studies on atmospheric microplastics including their occurrence, characteristics resource and fate. Atmospheric microplastics have been found in outdoor, indoor, urban, suburban and remote environments, while the different methods used in studies affect the comparison of atmospheric microplastic pollution levels in different regions. Besides, we discuss the potential effect on human health when exposed to airborne microplastics. Inhalation of microplastics and attached containments could induce particle and chemical toxicity, and some respiratory symptoms might occur. The reports on occupational diseases in industry workers also indicate the potential harm of microplastics. Meanwhile, we provide some recommendations for future atmospheric microplastic research. In a word, this chapter presents a comprehensive review of the occurrence of atmospheric microplastics, the detection methods and their potential health risk to humans.
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The presence of microplastics in the whole trophic network including humans has been documented by a plethora of studies. When microplastics are introduced into the trophic structure, the routine functions of the biotic systems play a role as vectors of contaminants. At each higher level of the trophic structure, the toxic levels are biomagnified. After ingestion, depending on the size, shape, and type of the material, the microplastics may stay in the digestive tracts or be absorbed by the intestinal epithelium and/or distributed through the circulatory system or excreted. When introduced into different tissues, it may trigger a chain of physiological and behavioral responses including physical damage and a reaction to the toxic chemicals of the microplastics and the chemicals adsorbed onto them. Multimodal accumulation of microplastics in humans from air and consumption of contaminated food, bottled water, beverages, and commercial salts are recorded. Studies have also documented that microplastics with a size of ≤20 μm are capable of penetrating into all the organs, cross cell membranes, the blood-brain barrier, and the placenta!KeywordsZooplanktonPrimary predatorPrimary producerFood chainPrimary consumerSecondary consumerTertiary predatorTertiary consumerBiomagnificationBioaccumulationPhysiological responseBehavioral responsePhysical damageMortalityTranslocation
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Recent studies have demonstrated that dielectrophoresis is an efficient method for the separation of fibers according to fiber length. This method allows the investigation of fiber-cell interactions with fiber samples of the same composition but of different lengths. In the present study, we analyzed the effects of length on the interaction between glass fibers and macrophages by focusing on production of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in a mouse macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7). The underlying molecular mechanisms controlling TNF-α production were investigated at the gene transcription level. The results show that glass fibers induced TNF-α production in macrophages and that this induction was associated with activation of the gene promoter. Activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-κB was responsible for this induced promoter activity. The inhibition of both TNF-α production and NF-κB activation by N-acetyl-l-cysteine, an antioxidant, indicates that generation of oxidants may contribute to the induction of this cytokine and activation of this transcription factor by glass fibers. Long fibers (17 μm) were significantly more potent than short fibers (7 μm) in inducing NF-κB activation, the gene promoter activity, and the production of TNF-α. This fiber length-dependent difference in the stimulatory potency correlated with the fact that macrophages were able to completely engulf short glass fibers, whereas phagocytosis of long glass fibers was incomplete. These results suggest that fiber length plays a critical role in the potential pathogenicity of glass fibers.
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In the first half of the twentieth century epidemiologic evidence linked elevated incidences of pulmonary fibrosis and cancer with inhalation of chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos, a family of naturally occurring inorganic fibrous materials. As the serpentine and amphibole forms of asbestos were phased out, synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs; fiber glass, mineral wool, and refractory fiber) became increasingly utilized, and concerns were raised that they too might cause adverse health effects. Extensive toxicological research on SVFs has demonstrated that their pulmonary effects are directly related to fiber dose in the lung over time. This is the result of deposition (thin fibers deposit in the lower lung more efficiently than thick fibers) and lung-persistence ("biopersistence" is directly related to fiber length and inversely related to dissolution and fragmentation rates). In rat inhalation studies, asbestos was determined to be 7- to 10-fold more biopersistent in the lung than SVFs. Other than its effect on biopersistence, fiber composition did not appear to play a direct role in the biological activity of SVFs. Recently, the utilization of man-made organic fibers (MMOFs) (also referred to by some as synthetic organic fibers) has increased rapidly for a variety of applications. In contrast to SVFs, research on the potential pulmonary effects of MMOFs is relatively limited, because traditionally MMOFs were manufactured in diameters too thick to be respirable (inhalable into the lower lung). However, new developments in the MMOF industry have resulted in the production of increasingly fine-diameter fibers for special applications, and certain post-manufacturing processes (e.g., chopping) generate respirable-sized MMOF dust. Until the mid-1990s, there was no consistent evidence of human health affects attributed to occupational exposure to MMOFs. Very recently, however, a unique form of interstitial lung disease has been reported in nylon flock workers in three different plants, and respirable-sized nylon shreds (including fibers) were identified in workplace air samples. Whether nylon dust or other occupational exposures are responsible for the development of lung disease in these workers remains to be determined. It is also unknown whether the biological mechanisms that determine the respirability and toxicity of SVFs apply to MMOFs. Thus, it is appropriate and timely to review the current data regarding MMOF workplace exposure and pulmonary health effects, including the database on epidemiological, exposure assessment, and toxicology studies.
Article
Two small-scale field studies were conducted to investigate the transfer of substances from products into dust due to direct and air-mediated transfer. The project focused on semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), which are frequently found in and re-emitted from dust. For the field studies, four artificial products containing deuterium-labelled SVOCs (eight phthalates and adipates) were installed in residential indoor environments. Two plastic products were installed vertically to consider substance transfer due to evaporation into air. One plastic product and a carpet were installed horizontally to investigate the direct transfer from source to dust. A pyrethroid was intentionally released by spraying a commercial spray. Dust samples were collected from the floor, elevated surfaces in the room and the surfaces of the horizontally installed products. We observed that the dust concentrations of substances only transferred via air were similar at different collection sites, but the concentrations of chemicals present in horizontal products were up to three orders of magnitude higher in dust deposited on the source. We conclude that direct transfer from source into dust substantially increases the final SVOC concentration in dust in contact with the source, regardless of the vapor pressure of investigated SVOCs, and may lead to larger human exposure.
Article
Coal mine dust's possible carcinogenicity has recently drawn attention because of the IARC review of quartz, some new epidemiological data in German coal miners, and findings on other poorly soluble, nontoxic dusts in the rat. The aim of this study was to investigate persistent inflammation and tumor response in the rat after intratracheal instillation of two coal dust samples and other dust preparations. Female Wistar rats (190 g) were instilled with ground lean coal (60 mg) coal mine dust (60 mg), DQI2 quartz (5 mg), and fine (60 mg) and ultrafine (30 mg) TiO2. After 129 wk rats were killed, tumors detected by microscopy, and inflammation by light microscopy after specific antibody staining for macrophages and granulocytes. Increased alveolar macrophages (AM) and interstitial granulocytes were still present in dust-treated animals. Both AM and granulocytes per surface area were related to tumor incidence when all materials were plotted in one graph, and can be interpreted as effects of overload. Differences in tumor formation between fine and ultrafine TiO2, despite similar inflammatory response, are probably caused by a direct effect of ultrafine TiO2 after interstitialization. It is concluded that coal dust is another poorly soluble, nontoxic dust, which at high enough dose rate causes overload, inflammation, and tumor response in the rat.
Article
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used in large quantities as flame-retardant additives in a number of commercial products. Biomonitoring data show that, in recent years, PBDE concentrations have increased rapidly in the bodies of wildlife and humans. Usually, PBDE levels in North America have been reported to be higher than those in Europe and Asia. Moreover, body burden of PBDEs is three- to ninefold higher in infants and toddlers than in adults, showing these last two age groups the highest levels of these compounds, due to exposure via maternal milk and through dust. Tetra-, Penta-, and Hexa-BDEs are the isomers most commonly found in humans. Based on studies on experimental animals, the toxicological endpoints of exposure to PBDEs are likely to be thyroid homeostasis disruption, neurodevelopmental deficits, reproductive changes, and even cancer. Experimental studies in animals and epidemiological observations in humans suggest that PBDEs may be developmental neurotoxicants. Pre- and/or postnatal exposure to PBDEs may cause long-lasting behavioral abnormalities, particularly on motor activity and cognition. This paper is focused on reviewing the current status of PBDEs in the environment, as well as the critical adverse health effects based on the recent studies on the toxic effects of PBDEs.
Article
Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have been detected in indoor dust in many studies, at concentrations spanning several orders of magnitude. Limited information is available on the pathways via which BFRs migrate from treated products into dust, yet the different mechanisms hypothesized to date may provide an explanation for the range of reported concentrations. In particular, transfer of BFRs to dust via abrasion of particles or fibers from treated products may explain elevated concentrations (up to 210mgg(-1)) of low volatility BFRs like decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209). In this study, an indoor dust sample containing a low concentration of hexabromocyclododecane, or HBCD, (110ngg(-1) ΣHBCDs) was placed on the floor of an in-house test chamber. A fabric curtain treated with HBCDs was placed on a mesh shelf 3cm above the chamber floor and abrasion induced using a stirrer bar. This induced abrasion generated fibers of the curtain, which contaminated the dust, and ΣHBCD concentrations in the dust increased to between 4020 and 52 500ngg(-1) for four different abrasion experiment times. The highly contaminated dust (ΣHBCD at 52 500ngg(-1)) together with three archived dust samples from various UK microenvironments, were investigated with forensic microscopy techniques. These techniques included Micro X-ray fluorescent spectroscopy, scanning emission microscopy coupled with an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy with further BFR analysis on LC-MS/MS. Using these techniques, fibers or particles abraded from a product treated with BFRs were identified in all dust samples, thereby accounting for the elevated concentrations detected in the original dust (3500 to 88 800ngg(-1) ΣHBCD and 24 000 to 1 438 000ngg(-1) for BDE-209). This study shows how test chamber experiments alongside forensic microscopy techniques, can provide valuable insights into the pathways via which BFRs contaminate indoor dust.
Article
This study investigated the desorption behavior of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from marine plastic pellets. Long-term desorption experiments were conducted using field-collected polyethylene (PE) pellets. The results indicate that the desorption kinetics highly depends on the PE-water partition coefficients of PCB congeners. After 128d of the experiment, the smallest congener considered (CB 8) had desorbed nearly completely (98%), whereas major fractions (90-99%) of highly chlorinated congeners remained in the pellets. An intraparticle diffusion model mostly failed to reproduce the desorption kinetics, whereas an aqueous boundary layer (ABL) diffusion model well approximated the data. The desorption half-lives are estimated to 14d to 210years for CB 8 to CB 209 in an actively stirred solution (ABL thickness: 30μm). Addition of methanol to water enhanced the desorption to a large extent. A need for further work to explore roles of organic matter in facilitating solute transfer is suggested.
Article
The solubility of fibers is thought to be an important determinant of their potential for inducing toxic and tumorigenic effects in the lung. Three manmade vitreous fiber (MMVF) compositions (borosilicates) and three polymeric organic fiber (POF) compositions (polypropylene, polyethylene, and polycarbonate) were compared for solubility in a physiological fluid, Gambles solution. The test materials were subjected to leaching for 180 days in a system that provided a continuous, constant flow of Gambles solution through sample holders containing the test fibers. During the 180 days, extraction fluids from the MMVFs only were collected for chemical characterization and all fibers, MMVF and POF were examined after 180 days for changes in surface area, total specimen weight, and surface characteristics (by electron microscopy). The MMVFs underwent significant but incongruent dissolution in Gambles solution. From plots of dissolved silica versus time, their silica solubility rates were determined to be much greater than that of chrysotile asbestos (used as a control for these studies) by from 650 to 17,000 times. The surface areas of the MMVFs increased by from 1800 to 22,000%, weight losses ranged from 37 to 75%, and significant visible fiber surface changes were observed on examination by SEM (scanning electron microscopy). On the other hand, the POFs studied showed virtually no dissolution in Gambles solution in this system with no significant changes in surface area, only slight weight gains ranging from 0.08 to 0.50%, and no visible fiber surface changes. These findings indicate that these POFs are more durable and therefore may persist longer in the lung than some MMVFs. Animal testing will be required to assess whether POFs are durable in the lung.
Article
The association between exposure to airway irritants and the presence of work-related symptoms and whether this association was modified by airway hyper-responsiveness, smoking, and allergy by history was studied in 668 workers of synthetic fiber plants. A Dutch version of the British Medical Research Council (BMRC) questionnaire with additional questions on allergy and work-related symptoms was used to assess symptoms, and a standardized histamine challenge test of airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) was employed. Work-related symptoms were defined as having more than usual eye and respiratory symptoms during work. On the basis of job titles and working department, the exposure status of all workers was characterized into seven groups: (1) reference group; (2) white collars; (3) SO2, HC1, SO4²⁻; (4) polyester vapor; (5) oil mist and oil vapor; (6) polyamide and polyester vapor; and (7) multiple exposure. The association between exposure groups and work-related symptom prevalence was estimated by means of multiple logistic regression.
Article
Seven patients exposed to the inhalation of synthetic fibres presented with various bronchopulmonary diseases, such as asthma, extrinsic allergic alveolitis, chronic bronchitis with bronchiectasis, spontaneous pneumothorax, and chronic pneumonia. The histological features are described and an attempt has been made to set up immunological techniques for the diagnosis. A series of histochemical techniques, based on textile chemistry, are proposed for the identification of the inclusions found in bronchopulmonary lesions. The results of the experimental production of the disease in guinea-pigs by the inhalation of synthetic fibre dusts are presented. The prognosis of these cases is good in the acute or recently established cases but is poor when widespread and irreversible fibrosis has set in. The authors consider that pulmonary disease due to inhaled particles is probably set off by an individual factor, possibly immunological.
Article
We report the results of studies undertaken to determine whether inhaled plant (i.e., cellulosic; e.g., cotton) and plastic (e.g., polyester) fibers are present in human lungs and, if so, whether inhaled fibers are also present in human lung cancers. Specimens of lung cancer of different histological types and adjacent nonneoplastic lung tissue were obtained from patients undergoing a lung resection for removal of a tumor. With the protection of a laminar flow hood and safeguards to prevent contamination by extraneous fibers, fresh, nonfixed, and nonstained samples of lung tissue were compressed between two glass microscope slides. Specimens in these dual slide chambers were examined with a microscope configured to permit viewing with white light, fluorescent light, polarizing light, and phase-contrast illumination. Near-term fetal bovine lungs and nonlung human tumors were used as controls. In contrast to the observations of these control tissues, morphologically heterogeneous fibers were seen repetitively in freshly excised human lung tissue using polarized light. Inhaled fibers were present in 83% of nonneoplastic lung specimens (n = 67/81) and in 97% of malignant lung specimens (n = 32/33). Thus, of the 114 human lung specimens examined, fibers were observed in 99 (87%). Examination of histopathology slides of lung tissue with polarized light confirmed the presence of inhaled cellulosic and plastic fibers. Of 160 surgical histopathology lung tissue slides, 17 were selected for critical examination; of these, fibers were identified in 13 slides. The inhalation of mineral (e.g., asbestos) fibers has been described by many investigators; we believe, however, that this is the first report of inhaled nonmineral (e.g., plant and plastic) fibers. These bioresistant and biopersistent cellulosic and plastic fibers are candidate agents contributing to the risk of lung cancer.
Article
A work-related interstitial lung disease has been diagnosed in workers at five nylon flock facilities in three different states and a Canadian province. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health hosted a workshop at which consulting pulmonary pathologists reviewed lung tissue samples from all the cases for which lung biopsy material was available (15 of 20 cases known in January 1998). After independent review and scoring of these lung tissue specimens, the pathologists reached consensus that the histopathological findings revealed a characteristic lesion-a lymphocytic bronchiolitis and peribronchiolitis with lymphoid hyperplasia represented by lymphoid aggregates. The pathologists noted that the pathological findings were distinctive when compared with known lung conditions. The clinical presentation for the cases generally included cough, dyspnea, restrictive ventilatory defect with reduction in diffusing capacity, and interstitial markings on chest radiographs or high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans. Six of the cases improved after removal from workplace exposure without medical treatment. Six others, who had recovered with medical treatment and removal from the workplace, had relapses in both symptoms and objective findings after attempting to return to nylon flock work. With this and other evidence supporting the existence of chronic interstitial pneumonitis associated with nylon flock processing, workshop participants recommended surveillance for early identification of affected workers and their removal from further workplace exposure.
Article
Flocking is a widely used industrial process in which short lengths of synthetic fibers are applied to backing fabric to produce plush material. In response to an apparent outbreak of interstitial lung disease in flock workers, the Centers for Disease Control hosted a clinical-pathological workshop to identify the defining characteristics of the disease and possible etiologic agents. Six pathologists reviewed 15 biopsies of 15 cases (out of a clinical caseload of 20 patients) and assessed the pattern, extent and degree of pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis, and other changes. A consensus clinical-pathologic diagnosis was reached for each patient and correlated with clinical and radiologic findings. Four of eight open lung biopsies and one of seven closed (transbronchial) lung biopsies demonstrated a characteristic pattern to which the descriptive terminology lymphocytic bronchiolitis and peribronchiolitis with lymphoid hyperplasia was applied. The other biopsies showed nonspecific inflammatory changes, airspace organization, and diffuse alveolar damage. One open lung biopsy demonstrated respiratory bronchiolitis with lymphoid hyperplasia. None of the lung biopsies showed more than mild interstitial fibrosis and no granulomas were identified. The consensus of the workshop was that lymphocytic bronchiolitis and peribronchiolitis with lymphoid hyperplasia was a characteristic and distinctive pattern of injury in the flock workers' lung biopsies. Although the etiology of this disease remains undefined at present, the injury pattern and environmental studies suggest a chronic immunologic response to inhaled material.
  • H Greim
  • P Borm
  • R Schins
  • K Donaldson
  • K Driscoll
  • A Hartwig
  • E Kuempel
  • G Oberdorster
  • G Speit
Greim H, Borm P, Schins R, Donaldson K, Driscoll K, Hartwig A, Kuempel E, Oberdorster G, Speit G: Toxicity of fibers and particles report of the workshop held in Munich, Germany, October 26-27, 2000. Inhal Toxicol 2001, 13:737-754.
Direct and air-mediated transfer of labeled SVOCs from indoor sources to dust
  • V Sukiene
  • Von Goetz
  • N Gerecke
  • A C Bakker
  • M I Delmaar
  • Cje Hungerbuhler
Sukiene V, von Goetz N, Gerecke AC, Bakker MI, Delmaar CJE, Hungerbuhler K: Direct and air-mediated transfer of labeled SVOCs from indoor sources to dust. Environ Sci Technol 2017, 51:3269-3277.