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The effects of microplastics (MP) on aquatic organisms are currently the subject of intense research. Here, we provide a critical perspective on published studies of MP ingestion by aquatic biota. We summarize the available research on MP presence, behaviour and effects on aquatic organisms monitored in the field and on laboratory studies of the ecotoxicological consequences of MP ingestion. We consider MP polymer type, shape, size as well as group of organisms studied and type of effect reported. Specifically, we evaluate whether or not the available laboratory studies of MP are representative of the types of MPs found in the environment and whether or not they have reported on relevant groups or organisms. Analysis of the available data revealed that 1) despite their widespread detection in field-based studies, polypropylene, polyester and polyamide particles were under-represented in laboratory studies; 2) fibres and fragments (800–1600 μm) are the most common form of MPs reported in animals collected from the field; 3) to date, most studies have been conducted on fish; knowledge is needed about the effects of MPs on other groups of organisms, especially invertebrates. Furthermore, there are significant mismatches between the types of MP most commonly found in the environment or reported in field studies and those used in laboratory experiments. Finally, there is an overarching need to understand the mechanism of action and ecotoxicological effects of environmentally relevant concentrations of MPs on aquatic organism health.
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Review
Studies of the effects of microplastics on aquatic organisms: What do we
know and where should we focus our efforts in the future?
Luís Carlos de Sá
a
, Miguel Oliveira
b
, Francisca Ribeiro
c
, Thiago Lopes Rocha
d
, Martyn Norman Futter
a,
a
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
b
University of Aveiro, Department of Biology, CESAM, Portugal
c
Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
d
Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology and Ecotoxicology, Institute of Tropical Pathology and Public Health, Federal University of Goiás, Goiás, Brazil
HIGHLIGHTS
Mismatch between microplastics (MP)
in the environment and in ecotoxicol-
ogy studies
Fish and small crustaceans are over-
represented in studies of MP effects
Most lab studies are conducted at unre-
alistically high MP concentrations
Mechanisms of MP action on organism
health still poorly understood
GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 4 April 2018
Received in revised form 16 July 2018
Accepted 16 July 2018
Available online xxxx
Editor: D. Barcelo
The effects of microplastics (MP) on aquatic organisms are currently the subject of intense research. Here, we pro-
vide a critical perspective on published studies of MP ingestion by aquatic biota. We summarize the available re-
search on MP presence, behaviour and effects on aquatic organisms monitored in the eld and on laboratory
studies of the ecotoxicological consequences of MP ingestion. We consider MP polymer type, shape, size as well
as group of organisms studied and type of effect reported. Specically, we evaluate whether or not the available lab-
oratory studies of MP are representative of the types of MPs found in the environment and whether or not they have
reported on relevant groups or organisms. Analysis of the available data revealed that 1) despite their widespread
detection in eld-based studies, polypropylene, polyester and polyamide particles were under-represented in labo-
ratory studies; 2) bres and fragments (8001600 μm) are the most common form of MPs reported in animals col-
lected from the eld; 3) to date, most studies have been conductedon sh; knowledge is needed about the effects of
MPs on other groups of organisms, especially invertebrates. Furthermore, there are signicant mismatches between
the types of MP most commonly found in the environment or reported in eld studies and those used in laboratory
experiments. Finally, there is an overarching need to understand the mechanism of action and ecotoxicological ef-
fects of environmentally relevant concentrations of MPs on aquatic organism health.
© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords:
Microplastic
Ecotoxicology
Aquatic organisms
Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: martyn.futter@slu.se (M.N. Futter).
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.207
0048-9697/© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Science of the Total Environment
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/scitotenv
Contents
1. Introduction............................................................. 1030
2. Methodologicalapproach....................................................... 1031
3. Resultsanddiscussion......................................................... 1031
3.1. TypesofMPs.......................................................... 1031
3.1.1. Types of MPs and target groups reported in eldandlaboratorystudies........................... 1031
3.1.2. Reports of organisms exposed to MPs in eldandlaboratoryconditions........................... 1032
3.2. EcotoxicologicalresearchonMPs................................................. 1033
3.2.1. OrganismgroupsusedinecotoxicologicalstudieswithMPs ................................ 1033
3.2.2. EcotoxicologicaleffectsofMPsonaquaticorganisms.................................... 1033
3.2.3. InteractiveecotoxicologicaleffectsofMPswithothercontaminants............................. 1035
4. Conclusionsandfutureperspectives................................................... 1036
Acknowledgments............................................................. 1036
References................................................................. 1036
1. Introduction
There is increasing scientic and societal concern about the
effects of microplastics (MPs), commonly dened as plastic particles
with sizes below 5 mm (Betts, 2008;Fendall and Sewell, 2009;
Hidalgo-Ruz et al., 2012), on freshwater and marine organisms
(Kubota, 1994;Gregory and Ryan, 1997;Yoon et al., 2010;Zar
and Matthies, 2010;Kako et al., 2011, 2014;Maximenko et al.,
2012;Isobe et al., 2014).
Microplastics can be classied as primary or secondary, depend-
ing on the manner in which they are produced. Primary MPs are
small plastic particles released directly into the environment via
e.g. domestic and industrial efuents, spills and sewage discharge
or indirectly (e.g. via run-off). The range of primary MP particle
types include fragments (Rummel et al., 2016), bres (Rummel
et al., 2016), pellets (Nobre et al., 2015), lm (Kang et al., 2015;
Lusher et al., 2015) and spheres (Li et al., 2016). Spheres are fre-
quently associated with pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries
(Zitko and Hanlon, 1991;Patel et al., 2009). Secondary MPs are
formed as a result of gradual degradation/fragmentation of larger
plastic particles already present in the environment, due to e.g. UV
radiation (photo-oxidation), mechanical transformation (e.g.
waves abrasion) and biological degradation by microorganisms
(Browne et al., 2007;Andrady and Neal, 2009;Cole et al., 2011).
Microplastics in the environment can be further degraded/
fragmented to produce nanoplastics (1100nm),which,whencom-
pared to other forms of plastic litter, have largely unknown fates and
toxicological properties (Koelmans et al., 2015;da Costa et al., 2016).
The amount of MPs in the aquatic environment continues to in-
crease, in part due to ongoing increases in the production of plastics,
with a total global production of 335 M ton in 2016 (Plastics Europe,
2017). There are a number of characteristics (e.g. resistance to corro-
sion, low thermal and electrical conductivity, durability, ability to trans-
port other materials and low production cost) that make plastics
suitable for use in a wide variety of applications, from construction to
medicine (Bockhorn et al., 1999). These same characteristics
highlighted above make the presence of plastics in the environment
problematic. Furthermore, plastics may incorporate additional
chemicals during manufacture (Andrady and Neal, 2009;Fries et al.,
2013) which are added to endow them with specic characteristic but
which may be toxic if ingested. Chemicals may also be incorporated/
adsorbed by plastics in the environment (Zarand Matthies, 2010;
Velzeboer et al., 2014). Microplastic particles have a large surface area
to volume ratio which provides a high association potential for environ-
mental contaminants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
(PAHs) (Rios et al., 2007)ormetals(Betts, 2008;Ashton et al., 2010).
There are a wide range of plastic polymers which are produced and
released to the environment. In Europe, polyethylene (PE) comprised
28%, polypropylene (PP) 19%, polyvinylchloride (PVC) 10% and polysty-
rene 7% of total production (Plastics Europe, 2017). Different plastic
polymers have a wide range of densities (from 16 to 2200 kg m
3;
Nizzetto et al., 2016) which inuences MP behaviour in the aquatic en-
vironment. Furthermore, MPs are found in a wide range of shapes (e.g.
spheres, bre, lm, irregular). Differences in shape and density cause
MPs to disperse diversely in different compartments of the aquatic envi-
ronment (water surface, water column and sediment) and inuence
their availability to organisms at different trophic levels and/or occupy-
ing different habitats (Betts, 2008;Thompson et al., 2009;Cole et al.,
2011). For example, pelagic organisms such as phytoplankton (Long
et al., 2015) and small crustaceans (e.g. zooplankton) (Desforges et al.,
2015) are more likely to encounter less dense, oating MPs while ben-
thic organisms including amphipods (Thompson et al., 2004), poly-
chaete worms (Mathalon and Hill, 2014), tubifex worms (Hurley et al.,
2017), molluscs (Brillant and MacDonald, 2002;Browne et al., 2008)
and echinoderms (Hart, 1991;Graham and Thompson, 2009)are
more likely to encounter MPs that are more dense than water. Both ben-
thic (de Sá et al., 2015) and pelagic (Rummel et al., 2016)sh may in-
gest MPs directly, or indirectly (i.e. consume them in prey). Birds
(Herzke et al., 2016)andmammals(Fossi et al., 2012)feedingon
aquatic organisms or living in aquatic environments are also known to
ingest MPs. Microplastics are found in almost all marine and freshwater
environments and have been detected in protected and remote areas
(Claessens et al., 2013) making their potential pernicious effects a global
problem.
To date, reviews on MPs in the environment have focused on
summarizing properties (e.g. Karimi, 2017), sources, fate and occur-
rence (e.g. Cole et al., 2011;Andrady, 2011;do Sul and Costa, 2014;
Auta et al., 2017;Cesa et al., 2017;Horton et al., 2017), concentra-
tions (Horton et al., 2017), analytical methods (e.g. Cole et al.,
2011;Hong et al., 2017)andeffectsonorganisms(e.g.Cole et al.,
2011;Wright et al., 2013b;Auta et al., 2017;Cesa et al., 2017;
Horton et al., 2017).
Despite the available reviews concerning environmental concen-
tration and ecotoxicological impact of MPs on aquatic organisms
(e.g. Cole et al., 2011;Andrady, 2011;Barboza and Gimenez, 2015;
Anbumani and Kakkar, 2018;Rezania et al., 2018), there is a lack of
critical evaluation of the current research trends related to types of
MPs detected in aquatic animals versus the type of MP and study or-
ganism used in laboratory studies of ecotoxicological effects (Phuong
et al., 2016;Horton et al., 2017). Thus, this paper aims to: (i) summa-
rize and discuss the current eld and laboratory research trends in
terms MP polymer type, shape and size reported and organism
group studied; (ii) critically review the published studies of ecotox-
icological effects of MPs on freshwater and marine biota with respect
to the aforementioned criteria and (iii)identifypromisingareasfor
future research.
1030 L.C. de Sá etal. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
2. Methodological approach
A survey of the available published peer-reviewed literature was
conducted on November 22, 2017 through a bibliographic study
using the Thompson Reuters database ISI Web of Science. A combina-
tion of keywords was used as criteria (i.e. microplastic*,inany
topic, title or text words). A total of 1637 candidate publications
were identied. The abstracts of all candidate articles were read so
as to identify relevant eld or laboratory studies reporting on MP in-
gestion or ecotoxicological effects in marine or freshwater aquatic
animals. Of the 1637 candidate publications, 157 were retained for
further analysis. Available studies were summarized according to
the following criteria: (i) type of MPs used and/or reported; (ii)
shape of MP used and/or reported; (iii) MP size range; (iv) group
of organisms studied; and (v) type of ecotoxicological effect
observed.
The following list of plastic types was used to classify MP parent ma-
terials reported in the literature: polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS),
polypropylene (PP), polyester (PES), polyvinylchloride (PVC), polyam-
ide (PA), acrylic polymers (AC), polyether (PT), cellophane (CP), poly-
urethane (PU) and not specied (NS). The PE family includes both
high- and low-density PE and PES plastics such as polylactic acid and
polyethylene terephthalate. The selected plastic types include the
main groups of MP parent materials reported in e.g. Plastics Europe
(2017).
When specied, shapes of MPs were classied according to the fol-
lowing list: spheres, bres, fragments, lm, and pellets. Microplastic
size was assigned to one or more of the following classes: b50 μm(in-
cluding nanoplastics); 50100 μm; 100200 μm; 200400 μm;
400800 μm; 8001600 μm; N1600 μm; or not specied (NS).
The groups of organisms studied included the following: sh, birds,
amphibians, reptiles, mammals, large crustaceans, small crustaceans,
molluscs, annelid worms, echinoderms, cnidaria, rotifera and porifera.
Small crustaceansincluded zooplankton while large crustaceansin-
cluded allother crustacean taxa. Plants and microbes were not included
in the results reported here.
Ecotoxicological effects enumerated included mortality, reproduc-
tive impairment, neurotoxicity, biotransformation of enzymes,
genotoxicity, physical effects, behavioural effects, oxidative stress and
damage, cytotoxicity, blood/haemolymph effects and increased accu-
mulation of other contaminants. No attempt was made to separate di-
rect ecotoxicological effects from e.g. organism responses associated
with starvation following MP ingestion.
The information in every article was tabulated and summarized
in the following manner: An article could report one or more studies.
A study was dened as a series of observations of one group of organ-
isms, type of MPs, shape and/or size. Any article reporting data on
more than one of the aforementioned categories gen erated a number
of studies equal to the number of elements per premise. For example,
if one article reported only on sh it was considered to be one study,
butifitreportedonbothsh and large crustaceans, it was consid-
ered to be two studies. Similarly, if one article only reported effects
of PE MP, it was considered to be one study, but if it documented
effectsofbothe.g.PEandPSMPsinsh and small crustaceans it
was considered to be four studies. Thus, the number of studies
presented in the results represents the number of interactions of
the aforementioned classication criteria (organism group, MP
type, MP shape, MP size), not the total number of publications.
Our search identied 157 published, peer-reviewed articles
which documented a total of 612 studies (listed in supplementary
information). In Sections 3.2.13.2.3 where MPs effects are
described, only studies which report MP effects on organisms were
considered. Thus, a number of studies of interactive effects of MPs
and other contaminants for which no impacts of MPs were identied
during our review of candidate literature have not been included
here.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. Types of MPs
3.1.1. Types of MPs and target groups reported in eld and laboratory
studies
The types of MPs most commonly reported across eld and labora-
tory studies include PE (23%) and PS (22%), followed by PP (12%) and
PES (9%) (Fig. 1). Fish were themost commonly studied group of organ-
isms (44%), followed by crustacea (21% for large and small crustacea
combined), molluscs (14%) and annelid worms (6%) (Fig. 2). There
were relatively few studies of other organism groups.
Polyethylene was the most common type of MP studied in sh, it
was reported in 34 studies, or 12% of the total number of studies identi-
ed. Ingestion of PE by sh is both widespreadand crosses habitat pref-
erences. For example, Lusher et al. (2013) showed that over one third of
sh examined in theirstudy had ingested MPs, with pelagic and benthic
sh displaying similar gut contents, suggesting either a lack of selectiv-
ity or widespread presence of PE in both the water column and sedi-
ments. The presence of PE was reported less commonly in other
groups of organisms, with 12 studies on molluscs, seven on small crus-
taceans and four on annelids (Fig.2). There were relatively few studies
of PE in vertebrates other than sh. (Fig. 2).
Effects of PS MPs have been reported in studies of sh (n= 17) and
small crustaceans (n = 19) (Fig. 2). Although crustaceans have been
shown to have the ability to distinguish live particles from inert ones,
e.g. algae and PS beads (Poulet and Marsot, 1978), ingestion of PS MPs
has been observed in small crustaceans occupying both pelagic and ben-
thic environments. Taxonomic groups in which PS MPs were detected
include the marine copepods Acartia spp. and Eurytemora afnis
(Setälä et al., 2014), large crustaceans such as the estuarine mysid
Neomysis integer (Setälä et al., 2014) and the crab Uca rapax
(Brennecke et al., 2015). Cole et al. (2013) reported that dead copepods
can have adhered PS fragments, which could contribute to the vertical
transport of this type of MP. Nizzetto et al. (2016) report densities of
10401090 kg m
3
for PS and 910940 kg m
3
for PE. These differences
may explain the discrepancy inthe number of studies reporting PE MPs
in sh and other pelagic organisms versus the number of studies
reporting PS MPs in benthic sh and crustaceans. The density of PS
MPs is usually greater than PE MPs, so they may be available not only
in the water column, but also in the sediment (Browne et al., 2007),
representing a higher risk for both pelagic and demersal organisms,
while PE MPs have a lower density presenting a higher availability in
the water column and potentially pose a higher risk for pelagic sh
(Phuong et al., 2016). However, densities of these polymers may change
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
PU
CP
PT
AC
PA
PVC
PES
PP
NS
PS
PE
% of studies
scitsalporciMfosepyT
61
57
31
23
1
18
17
12
2
2
38
Fig. 1. Percentage of studies under the conjugation of the subjects microplasticsand
ingestion/effects on organismsper type of microplastics. Every bar has total number of
studies. Studies were dened according to the typology of microplastics. Different types
of microplastics enumerated include PE-Polyethylene; PS-Polystyrene; NS-Not specied;
PP-Polypropylene; PES-Polyester; PVC-Polyvinylchloride; PA-Polyamide; AC-Acrylic; PT-
Polyether; CP-Cellophane; PU-Polyurethane.
1031L.C. de Sá et al. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
while in the environment as a result of e.g. biolms or occulation
(Rummel et al., 2017).
The widespread distribution of MPs in aquatic ecosystems (Lusher
et al., 2013) and broad range of physicochemical properties makes a
wide range of aquatic organisms potentially susceptible to these emerg-
ing contaminants. There are a number of ways in which organisms may
accumulate MPs. Animals exposed to MPs may incorporate them
through their gills (Watts et al., 2014) and digestive tract (Boerger
et al., 2010;Denuncio et al., 2011;de Stephanis et al., 2013;Jantz
et al., 2013;Lusher et al., 2013;Rebolledo et al., 2013;de Sá et al.,
2015). The ingestion may be due to an inability to differentiate MPs
from prey (de Sá et al., 2015) or ingestion of organisms of lower trophic
levels containing these particles (e.g. plankton containing MPs)
(Browne et al., 2008;Fendall and Sewell, 2009;do Sul and Costa,
2014). MPs may also adhere directly to organisms (Dabrunz et al.,
2011;Cole et al., 2013).
3.1.2. Reports of organisms exposed to MPs in eld and laboratory
conditions
Despite the ever increasing number of studies of the effects of MPs
on aquatic biota, there is a possibility that effect studies may be biased
towards to a particular type ofpolymer without due consideration ofre-
ported occurrencein organisms and the environment, estimated release
to the environment and bioavailability. The same possibility should also
be considered for the model organisms used in laboratory assays.
The surveyed publications identied an equivalent number of stud-
ies conducted in the eld (48%) and laboratory (52%) (Fig. 3A). How-
ever, there are differences in the groups of organisms studied. Fish are
the most studied organism group in the eld (23% of all studies),
whereas small crustaceans are the group most studied in the laboratory
(17% of all studies) (Fig. 3A). Such differences may be the result of dif-
culties in maintaining and handling large and/or long-lived organisms
under controlled conditions. Unfortunately, a sizeable fraction of the
eld studies (24%) did not report the typology of MPs present in the
biota (Fig. S1). This is a highly relevant shortcoming considering that
the properties of the MP parent material are likely to inuence both
its physical behaviour in the environment (e.g. presence in the water
column or in sediments), the potential to adsorb environmental
contaminants, and its bioavailability (Andrady and Neal, 2009;Zar
and Matthies, 2010;Antunes et al., 2013;Fries et al., 2013;Oliveira
et al., 2013;Rochman et al., 2013;Velzeboer et al., 2014)anditseffects
on organism health (Au et al., 2015;Straub et al., 2017).
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
fosepyttnereffidehtfo%
scitsalporcim
Groups of organisms
NS
PU
CP
PT
AC
PA
PVC
PES
PP
PS
PE
131
40 39
19
11 9552
10
11
22
Fig. 2. Percentageof the different type of microplasticsper group of organisms. Every bar has the totalnumber of studies. Studies were denedaccording the typologyof microplasticsand
the number of individuals per group of organisms. Plastic types enumerated include NS-Not specied; PU-Polyurethane; CP-Cellophane; PT- Polyether; AC-Acrylic; PA-Polyamide; PVC-
Polyvinylchloride; PES-Polyester; PP-Polypropylene; PS-Polystyrene; PE-Polyethylene.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Porifera
Reptilia
Amphibia
Rotifera
Cnidaria
Birds
Echinodermata
Mammalia
Annelida
Mollusca
Large Crustacea
Small Crustacea
Fish
% of studies
sminagrofospuorG
Freshwater
Seawater
1
1
1
6
6
29
15
36
71
5
3
2
B
12
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Porifera
Reptilia
Amphibia
Rotifera
Cnidaria
Birds
Echinodermata
Mammalia
Annelida
Mollusca
Large Crustacea
Small Crustacea
Fish
% of studies
sminagrofospuorG
Field
Laboratory
1
1
1
6
6
29
15
36
71
5
3
2
A
12
Fig. 3. Field and laboratory exposures (A) and Freshwater and seawater organisms (B) in
the study of the ingestion and effects of microplastics. Every bar has the total number of
studies. Studies were dened according the number of individuals per groups of
organisms.
1032 L.C. de Sá etal. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
The most common types of MPs reported in biota collected during
eld sampling include PE (17%), PP (14%), PES (13%), PA (10%) and PS
MPs (9%) (Fig. S1). This detection frequency largely reects rates of
plastic production, except that PS plastics are produced in greater
amounts than either PES or PA. While eld studies generally reect re-
ported plastic production rates, these polymers were not studied with
similar frequency in laboratory assays (Fig. S1). In fact, only 8% of the
laboratory studies have been performed with PP MPs whereas PS and
PE MPs were used in 40% and 33% of the studies respectively (Fig. S1).
It becomes apparent that there is a need for further laboratory studies
documenting the potential effects of PP MPs, considering that it is one
of the most produced and demanded types of plastic, with about 20%
of European production, much more than the 7% of production devoted
to PS (Plastics Europe, 2017).
The shape of MPs reported in organisms collected during eld sur-
veys is varied. Fibres and fragments were reported in 23% and 21% of
studies, respectively, followed by spheres (11%), lm (8%) and pellets
(4%) (Fig. S2). However, in laboratory studies, spherical MPs have
been the most commonly used shape (17%) followed by bres, frag-
ments and unspecied particles (all 3%) (Fig. S2). From this, it can be
seen that there is a needto perform more laboratory studies with bres
and fragments given their frequency of detection in animals collected
from the eld and their widespread presence in the environment. The
MP size used or reported in published studies also varies and is related
to MP shape (Fig. S2), with almost every shape having been reported
across all size ranges (Fig. S2). The size ranges 8001600 μm (12%)
and 400800 μm (12%) were the most commonly reported in animals
collected from the eld, followed by 200400 μm(11%)(Fig.S2).In
the laboratory, smaller particles (b50 μm) were used most commonly
(75 / 169 laboratory studies where MP size was reported) (Fig. S2).
This may reect the difculty in sampling smaller particles from envi-
ronmental media as the size of MPs in biological samples collected in
the environment may be biased by sampling and detection methodol-
ogy that seem to contribute to the scarcity of reports of MP with a size
b50 μm. The size range 8001600 μm, the most commonly reported
from eld samples of biota represents a very small fraction of the sizes
used in the laboratory (Fig. S2). This mismatch in size between eld ob-
servations and laboratory studies demonstrates a clear research gap.
However, this discrepancy should be evaluated in light of the relative
distribution of MP size fractions reported in relevant compartments of
the aquatic environment including oating material and sediments.
3.2. Ecotoxicological research on MPs
The rst studies concerning the potential ecotoxicological impact of
MPs on aquatic organisms were carried out in latter half of the 2000s by
Browne et al. (2008), who performed a laboratory study in which they
observed the translocation of MP particles from the gut to the circula-
tory system of Mytilus edulis. Since then, the total number of eld and
laboratory studies involving MPs and their interactions and effects on
aquatic organisms has grown signicantly, especially after 2012.
3.2.1. Organism groups used in ecotoxicological studies with MPs
To date, ecotoxicological studies of MPs have been conducted pre-
dominantly using marine (77%) as opposed to freshwater (23%) organ-
isms (Fig. 3B). This lack of ecotoxicological knowledge on the behaviour
of MPs in the freshwater environment has been commented on by a
number of authors (Eerkes-Medrano et al., 2015;Wagner et al., 2014;
Phuong et al., 2016). This knowledge gap is of high concern since fresh-
water organisms are directly affected by terrestrial runoff, wastewater
and other discharges potentially containing high levels of MPs and
other contaminants (Dris et al., 2015). Furthermore, they may encoun-
ter more highly contaminated sediments, increasing the likelihood of
synergistic effects of MPs with other environmental pollutants.
Among the reports of MPs in marine organisms, sh are the most
commonly studied group (25%), followed by molluscs (15%), small
crustacea (11%), large crustacea (8%) annelid worms (6%), mammals
and echinoderms (both 3%), birds and cnidaria (both 2%),porifera, rep-
tiles and rotifers (all b1%) (Fig. 3B). Multiple freshwater studies only
exist for sh (13% overall, 56% of the freshwater studies) and small crus-
tacea (8% overall, 35% of the freshwater studies). There are individual
studies of MPs in freshwater birds, amphibians, annelid worms and ro-
tifers (Fig. 3B). The relative paucity of ecotoxicological studies on groups
of organisms other than sh and small crustacea in freshwater environ-
ments highlights that the effects of MPs on freshwater ecosystems has
been under-studied and deserves further attention. Specically, the ef-
fects of MPs on molluscs and freshwater benthic crustaceans is worthy
of further study as these groups of organisms may be exposed to high
levels of MPs in sediments (Nel et al., 2018).
To date, the most studied species in the laboratory has been the
small freshwater planktonic crustacean Daphnia magna (12%)
(Besseling et al., 2014;Booth et al., 2016;Jemec et al., 2016;Ma et al.,
2016;Nasser and Lynch, 2016;Ogonowski et al., 2016;Rehse et al.,
2016;Rist et al., 2016;Kim et al., 2017;Mattson et al., 2017;Aljaibachi
and Callaghan, 2018). The number of studies of D. magna may reect
its widespread use in ecotoxicology laboratories.
Other commonly studied species include the freshwater sh Danio
rerio (7%) (Khan et al., 2015;Lu et al., 2016;Chen et al., 2017a, 2017b;
Sleight et al., 2017;Veneman et al., 2017;Lei et al., 2018), the common
goby, a marine sh Pomatoschistus microps (6%) (Oliveira et al., 2012,
2013;de Sá et al., 2015;Luis et al., 2015;Ferreira et al., 2016;Fonte
et al., 2016), a mollusc (the marine blue mussel M. edulis;5%) (von
Moos et al., 2012;Wegner et al., 2012;De Witte et al., 2014,Van
Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014,Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2015),
and the annelid lugworm Arenicola marina (5%) (Besseling et al., 2013;
Browne et al., 2013;Wright et al., 2013a;Van Cauwenberghe et al.,
2015;Green et al., 2016). Given the differences in habits and physiology
of marine and freshwater species, it is not clear to what extent results
based on studies of marine organisms can be applied to freshwater spe-
cies and vice versa. This further highlights the need for additional stud-
ies, especially in highly contaminated, low salinity environments such
as the Baltic where both marine and freshwater organisms are subject
to a high degree of environmental stress (Ojaveer et al., 2010).
Furthermore, closely related species may show differences in re-
sponse to MP exposure. Jaikumar et al. (2018) showed that three Daph-
nia species showed different responses to primary and secondary MP
exposure, and different interactive effects of MP exposure and thermal
stress. While the authors note that their study should be interpreted
with caution due to the High MP concentrations used, their results do
suggest a need for studies across a wider range of organisms than com-
monly used ecotoxicological model speciessuch as D. magna and D. rero.
3.2.2. Ecotoxicological effects of MPs on aquatic organisms
A total of 130 studies reporting ecotoxicological effects of MPs on
aquatic organisms were identied (Fig. 4). Crustaceans were the most
commonlystudied taxonomic group (45%), followed by sh (21%), mol-
luscs (18%), annelid worms (7%), echinoderms (7%) and rotifers (2%).
These organism groups occupy a number of positions in aquatic food
webs. Fish are generally intermediate/top predators (Oliveira et al.,
2012, 2013;Pochberger et al., 2014;de Sá et al., 2015) and may ingest
MPs either directly or through consumption of prey containing MPs.
Small crustaceans are often primary consumers (Desforges et al.,
2014), as are planktonic rotifers. Molluscs include a number of ecologi-
cally and commercially important lter feeding organisms. Because of
their habitat and feeding behaviour, molluscs and other benthic organ-
ism groups such as annelid worms are likely to be affected by MPs. Mol-
luscs include a large number of lter feeding species, with a high
tendency for bioaccumulation. Considering that several of these organ-
isms are widely used for food (e.g. M. edulis), they are a potential source
of MPs or environmental contaminants tohumans (Wegner et al., 2012;
Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014). The relative lack of studies con-
ducted on other organism groups (e.g. vertebrates other than sh,
1033L.C. de Sá et al. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
echinoderms, cnidaria, rotifers and porifera) should be addressed as
these animals in these groups are likely to play an important role in
aquatic food webs (Fig. 3A,B). Specically, studies targeting mode of ac-
tion (MoA) must be conducted to determine whether or not MPs have
similar effects on sh as they do on other vertebrate taxa, and whether
studies of small crustacea exposed to MPs provide sufcient insight into
ecotoxicological effects on other groups of invertebrates.
A range of ecotoxicological effects of different MP types have been
documented across several groups of organisms (Fig.4, Table S1). In
the following, the duration and/or type of experiment, size of MP and
concentration are reported for each study. Documented effects of PE
MPs in sh (Fig. 4) include neurotoxicity (96 h; 15μm;
0.184 mg L
1
)(Oliveira et al., 2012, 2013;Luis et al., 2015), reduction
of the predatory performance and efciency in P. microps (predatory
test; 420500 μm; 100 particles L
1
)(de Sá et al., 2015). Mazurais
et al. (2015) reported mortality and induction of the cytochrome P450
(CYP P450) in D. labrax (846 h; 1045 μm; 10100 particles mg
1
of
diet). Polyethylene MPs have been shown to affect growth and repro-
duction of a large freshwater crustacean, the amphipod Hyalella azteca
(240 h and 1008 h; 1027 μm; 010
8
particles L
1
)(Au et al., 2015).
Several toxic effects related to immune response, oxidative stress and
genotoxicity have been reported in molluscs including a study of the
marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis exposed to PE MPs (168 h;
b100 μm; 20,000 mg L
1
)(Avio et al., 2015). Van Cauwenberghe et al.
(2015) observed an increase of energy consumption by the polychaete
A. marina when exposed to PE MPs (336 h; b100 μm; 1.1 × 10
5
particles L
1
). In echinoderms, PE MPs (120 h; 1045 μm; 3 × 10
5
particles L
1
)havebeenshowntoinuence larval growth and develop-
ment of Tripneustes gratilla without affecting its survival (Kaposi et al.,
2014). These results were corroborated by Nobre et al. (2015) for
Lytechinus variegatus larvae (24 h; 200 ml particles L
1
). It is note-
worthy that these studies have all been conducted at MP concentra-
tions higher than those typically encountered in the aquatic
environment.
Effects of PP MPs on H. azteca (240 h and 1008 h; 2075 μm; 09
×10
4
particles L
1
) have been reported by Au et al. (2015) who demon-
strated a higher toxicity for PP than PE MPs. They reported a LC
50
=7.14
×10
4
particles L
1
for PP MPs compared to LC
50
=4.64×10
7
particles L
1
for PE MPs.
Effects of PS MPs have been widely documented. In studies with the
sh D. rerio, PS MPs have been shown to be responsible for the up-
regulation of genes involved in the nervous and visual (Chen et al.,
2017a, 2017b)(48120 h; 0.040.42 μm; 1 mg L
1
)aswellasimmune
system (Veneman et al., 2017) (Injection; 0.7μm; 5000 mg L
1
). Studies
of small crustaceans include those by Cole et al. (2015) and Lee et al.
(2013) who observed a decrease in survivaland fecundity of the marine
copepods Calanus helgolandicus (24 h and 216 h; 20 μm; 6.57.5 × 10
4
particles L
1
)andTigriopus japonicas (two generation test; 0.050.5
μm; 0.12525 mg L
1
) when exposed to PS MPs. Gambardella et al.
(2017) and Jeong et al. (2017) demonstrated some alteration of en-
zymes in the small crustaceans Artemia franciscana (48 h; 0.1 μm;
0.00110 mg L
1
)andParacyclopina nana (24 h; 0.056μm;
0.120 mg L
1
). Avio et al. (2015) documented similar enzyme alter-
ation effects following PS and PE MP exposure in. the marine mollusc
M. galloprovincialis (168 h; b100 μm; 2 × 10
3
mg L
1
). Additional eco-
toxicological effects of exposure to PS MPs was observed in two mollusc
species. A study using Scrobicularia plana (Ribeiro et al., 2017) reported
increases in neurotoxicity and genotoxicity. A 25% increase in energy
consumption was reported after ingestion of PS MPs by M. edulis
(336 h; b100 μm; 1.1 × 10
5
particles L
1
)(Van Cauwenberghe et al.,
2015), probably associated with an effort to digest inert material and
maintain physiological homeostasis (von Moos et al., 2012). In
M. edulis, the transition of MP from the gut to the haemolymph was ob-
served to continue for N48 days after a 3 days exposure (Browne et al.,
2008). This persistence of MPs in mussel tissues represents a possible
source of toxicity to their predators and potentially to humans (e.g. De
Witte et al., 2014;Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014), and empha-
sizes the relevance of this topic of research. In the polychaete
A. marina ecotoxicological effects of exposure to PS MPs (672 h;
4001300 μm; 10
5
mg L
1
) include reduced feeding activity and reduc-
tion of lysosomal membrane stability (Besseling et al., 2013). Van
Cauwenberghe et al. (2015) also observed an increase of energy con-
sumption by A. marina when exposed to PS MPs (336 h; b100 μm; 1.1
×10
5
particles L
1
). Della Torre et al. (2014) described effects of PS
MPs (648 h; 0.040.05 μm; 150 mg L
1
) on gene expression in the
echinoderm Paracentrotus lividus, including an up-regulation of the
Abcb1 gene responsible for protection and multi-drug resistance
(Shipp and Hamdoun, 2012). In rotifers, a decrease in growth rate and
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
PE PS PVC PE PS PP PVC PES PA AC PE PS PE PS PVC PE PS PS
Fish Crustacea Mollusca Annelida Echinodermata Rotifera
Mortality Physical effe cts
Reproduction Behavior effects
Neurotoxicity Oxidative stress
Biotransformation enzymes Cytotoxicity
Genotoxicity Blood and Hemolymph parameters
3
3816 2
14 1
27
910
57
29 42
6
3
Fig. 4. Ecotoxicological effectsof microplasticson the different groupsof organisms. Every barhas the total number of studies.Studies were denedaccording to the type of MPs,groups of
organisms and effects.
1034 L.C. de Sá etal. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
fecundity was observed following exposure to PS MPs (288 h; 0.056
μm; 0.120 mg L
1
)(Jeong et al., 2016).
Studies with A. marina subject to sediment PVC exposure (48 h,
672 h; 130 μm; 550 × 10
3
mg of particles kg
1
of sediment) showed
a depletion of lipid reserves and an inammatory response (Wright
et al., 2013a).
Overall, documented effects of MPs on aquatic organisms include re-
duction of feeding activity (Besseling et al., 2013;de Sá et al., 2015), ox-
idative stress (Della Torre et al., 2014), genotoxicity (Della Torre et al.,
2014), neurotoxicity (Oliveira et al., 2012, 2013;Luis et al., 2015;
Ribeiro et al., 2017), growth delay (Della Torre et al., 2014;Au et al.,
2015;Redondo-Hasselerharm et al., 2018), reduction of reproductive
tness (Lee et al., 2013;Au et al., 2015;Cole et al., 2015) and ultimately
death (Lee et al., 2013;Au et al., 2015;Cole et al., 2015;Mazurais et al.,
2015;Li et al., 2016).
The MP concentrations used in sediment ecotoxicologicalstudies are
of a similar order of magnitude to the highest eld reported concentra-
tions. Hurley et al. (2018) report maximum sediment concentrations of
~440,000 particles m
2
, and an average of 16,000 particles m
2
.How-
ever, concentrations of suspended MPs used in ecotoxicological studies
are generally higher than average surface water concentrations summa-
rized by Hurley et al. (2018). This is a signicant concern as unrealisti-
cally high concentrations of MPs in experimental studies may lead to
erroneous or misleading conclusions about the risks posed to aquatic
organisms.
3.2.3. Interactive ecotoxicological effects of MPs with other contaminants
There are a large number of studies on the combined effects of MPs
with otherenvironmental contaminants (Fig. 5, Table S2). These studies
are motivated by the situation found in the environment where organ-
isms are simultaneously exposed to several contaminants. The main
goal of these studies is to investigate if MPs can interact positively or
negatively with the ecotoxicological effects of other contaminants.
There may be synergistic effects of MPs and other contaminants on or-
ganism health, or MPs may function as a transport vector for other
contaminants.
We identied 59 studies of interactive effects of other environmen-
tal contaminants with MPs (Fig. 5). Moststudies had been performed on
sh (63%),with some studies ofmolluscs (19%), crustacea (14%) and an-
nelid worms (5%). Studies involving sh include e.g. (Oliveira et al.,
2012, 2013;Rochman et al., 2013;Chen et al., 2017a;Sleight et al.,
2017;Rainieri et al., 2018). Crustaceans were studied by Watts et al.
(2015) and Tosetto et al. (2016). Molluscs studies included e.g. (Avio
et al., 2015;Paul-Pont et al., 2016;Rist et al., 2016;Guilhermino et al.,
2018). Annelida were studied by Besseling et al. (2013). Unfortunately,
Herzke et al. (2016) did not specify the type of MP used in their study of
legacy POP accumulation in the seabird Fulmaris glacialis so it was not
possible to include this study in Fig. 5.
Studies examined the combined effects of MPs with legacy POPs
(64%), endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs; 17%), metals (10%),
antibiotics (7%) and herbicides (2%). Legacy POPs included PAHs,
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers
(PBDEs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (DDT and break-
down products). Metals included silver, chromium VI and nickel. Ef-
fects of MPs and the antibiotics celafaxin and triclosan as well as the
herbicide paraquat were documented. Endocrine disrupting com-
pounds included the pharmaceutical 17α-ethinylestradiol and
Bisphenol-A. Slightly more than half the studies (54%) were con-
ducted using PE MPs. Polystyrene (29%), PVC (19%) and PP (4%)
MPs were also reported.
Adverse effects of MPs (PE; 15μm; 0.184 mg L
1
)withchromium
(VI) (3.9 mg L
1
) including neurotoxicity and mortality were reported
in a study of P. microps (Luis et al., 2015), suggesting that this metal
can adhere to MP surface and that populations from two estuaries can
be differently inuenced by this combined exposure (Luis et al., 2015).
Studies on the combined effects of MPs and POPs exposure include
e.g. PCBs (Besseling et al., 2013;Rochman et al., 2013;Herzke et al.,
2016), DDT (Rios et al., 2007;Watts et al., 2015;Herzke et al., 2016)
and PAHs (Oliveira et al., 2012, 2013;Avio et al., 2015;Paul-Pont
et al., 2016;Rist et al., 2016;Tosetto et al., 2016;Sleight et al., 2017;
Batel et al., 2018). Both genotoxicity and reproductive effects were
often reported in this group of studies.
Chen et al. (2017a) and Sleight et al. (2017) studied the interactions
of MPs and the 17α-ethinylestradiol, a synthetic hormone which can
function as an EDC. They documented genotoxicity, reproductive and
behavioural effects in the sh D. rerio.
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Silver
PAHs
Chromium VI
PCBs
PBDEs
Cefalexin
Paraquat
17α-ethinylestradiol
Bisphenol A
PAHs
17α-ethinylestradiol
PAHs
PAHs
Nickel
PCBs
DDT, DDE
PAHs
PAHs
PAHs
PCBs
Triclosan
PE PS PVC PE PS PP PE PS PVC PS PVC
Fish Crustacea Mollusca Annelida
Mortality Physical effects Reproduction
Behavioral effects Neurotoxicity Oxidative stress
Biotransformation enzymes Cytotoxicity Genotoxicity
Blood and Hemolymph parameters Oxidative damage Contaminant accumulation
1
1221
24
14
11 3
33
325
4
21
22
Fig. 5. Combined ecotoxicological effectsof MPs with othercontaminants onthe different groupsof organisms.Every bar shows thetotal number of studies. Studies were dened according
to the type of MPs, groups of organisms and effects.
1035L.C. de Sá et al. / Science of the Total Environment 645 (2018) 10291039
Browne et al. (2013) documented increased mortality of the annelid
worm A. marina exposed to PVC MPs and the antibiotic triclosan. Fonte
et al. (2016) showed a range of effects including neurotoxicity and
changes in enzyme activity when the sh P. microps was exposed to
PE MPs and the antibiotic celafaxin.
Accumulation of MP-associated contaminants (i.e. a Trojan
Horse) may result in an increase of the potential risk of contaminant
accumulation for higher trophic levels including humans (Oliveira
et al., 2013;Luis et al., 2015). The available data (Fig. 5)emphasizes
the negative effects of those interactions and reveals the importance
of studies focusing on the combined effects of MPs and other envi-
ronmental contaminants, after short and long-term exposure pe-
riods, since the consequences of these combinations are still poorly
known (Wright et al., 2013b). There is an absence of studies that as-
certain MPs capability to adsorb other contaminants once inside the
organisms, which may represent a positive outcome. However, there
arelikelytobesignicant analytical challenges associated with
conducting such studies. Furthermore, there is a lack of information
about the interactive effects of MPs and other contaminants on
freshwater organisms. Considering that there are many freshwater
organisms with considerable trophic and commercial importance,
this approach should be one of the directions that the study of MPs
should take.
In our search there was only one article (Ferreira et al., 2016) that in-
dicates that MPs had nocombined effects with the other tested contam-
inant, in this case gold (Au) nanoparticles. While it is difcult to
demonstrate, it is possible that this lack of studies in the literature re-
ects a bias against publishing negative results. A different study dem-
onstrates that the effect of bisphenol A in immobilization in D. magna
decreases in the presence of PA (polyamide) particles (Rehse et al.,
2018). Teuten et al. (2007) studied the effect of adding cleanplastic
to a sediment-water system with A. marina contaminated with phenan-
threne (PAH) as a model compound, using an equilibrium partitioning
approach. They concluded that plastic addition would reduce bioavail-
ability to A. marina due to scavenging of phenanthrene by the plastic.
It has been discussed (Koelmans et al., 2013) that MP ingestion may in-
crease bioaccumulation for some chemicals in the mixture (additives,
plasticizers) yet decrease the body burden of these chemicals if they
have opposing concentration gradients between plastic and biota lipids
(Gouin et al., 2011;Koelmans et al., 2013), demonstrating the need of
more studies about on the interactive effects of MPs andother environ-
mental pollutants.
4. Conclusions and future perspectives
The occurrence and accumulation of MPs in the aquatic environ-
ment is nowadays an undeniable fact. It is also undeniable that a
large number of organisms are exposed to these particles and that
this exposure may cause a variety of effects and threaten individuals
of many different species, the ecosystems they live in and, ulti-
mately, humans. The potential deleterious effects of MPs on aquatic
biota have been recognized by the scientic community as demon-
strated by the increasing number of studies in the last years focus-
sing primarily on marine biota. However, the effects of MPs on
freshwater organisms are much less well known.
Overall, results suggest a knowledge gapon the effects of PE MPs on
other organisms beyond sh and PS MPs on all groups of organisms ex-
cept sh and small crustaceans. Polyethylene and PS MPs are clearly the
most studied type of polymers, although others, specically PP, PES and
PA, may represent a similar danger for aquatic life. Clearly, more re-
search is needed to conrm this issue. While spherical particles are
most commonly used in laboratory studies, bres and fragments are
the most common types of shapes detected in organisms collected
from eld samples and the common size of these particles varies be-
tween 800 and 1600 μm.
Based on theresults of this work we point out some issues that need
to be considered, in order to better understand the problematic of MPs
in aquatic systems:
a) Perform more studies of MP effects at environmentally relevant con-
centrations;
b) Study the effects of PP, PES and PAMPs in all groups of animals con-
sidered in this paper since these particles, namely PP, are
manufactured in large scale and detected in aquatic organisms in
the higher quantities than PS;
c) Perform more laboratory studies targeting a range of organism
groups with the most common shapes (bres and fragments) and
size range (8001600 μm) of MPs found in biological samples from
the eld;
d) Perform more eld and laboratory studies with freshwater organ-
isms;
e) Investigate the mechanisms by which MPs affect other groups of or-
ganisms (e.g. echinodermata, cnidaria and porifera) to better deter-
mine the relevance of studies on small crustacea for invertebrates in
general;
f) Understand the mechanisms by which PE affects other groups of or-
ganisms beyond sh and PS MPs on other groups, excepting sh and
small crustaceans;
g) Take into account the interactive effects of MPs and other contami-
nants;
h) Assess the ecotoxicity of MPs in more environmentally relevant con-
ditions, such as multispecies exposures and mesocosms.
i) Encourage the publication of negative results
More investigations are needed in the coming years. They will be
fundamental to understand the mechanism or mechanisms by which
MPs affect aquatic organisms so as to credibly address the real impacts
of these micro-contaminants on the environment.
Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.207.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank the Swedish Research Council
FORMAS (2017-00029) for funding parts of this study, in the frame of
the collaborative international Consortium (IMPASSE) nanced under
the ERA-NET WaterWorks2015 Cofunded Call. This ERA-NET is an inte-
gral part of the 2016 Joint Activities developed by the Water Challenges
for a Changing World Joint Programme Initiative (Water JPI). We are
grateful to Mirco Bundschuh for comments on an earlier version of the
manuscript and to the four anonymous reviewers who provided helpful
guidance in improving the quality of this submission.
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... The initial studies regarding the possible ecotoxicological impact of microplastics (MPs) on freshwater organisms were performed in the latter half of the 2000s. 1 There has been growing societal and scientific concern about the effects of plastic particles on marine and freshwater organisms, and currently, this area is one of the most intensely researched environmental topics. 2,3 For decades, plastic pollution has been part of the freshwater environment, and it is expected to expand exponentially in the coming years. 4 MPs have been discovered in isolated and protected areas and found in all freshwater ecosystems. ...
... 5 MP exposure has a variety of negative consequences on freshwater biota, from primary consumers such as members of the genus Daphnia (daphnids) to top predators and even humans. 2,[6][7][8] Plastics were developed over 200 years ago-thus, before the twentieth century-by using natural compounds such as tree-sap latex, insect secretion shellac, celluloids, and rubber. 9 Scientific and technological advancements regarding new synthetic substances have greatly increased the production of plastics, making them an important commodity in the near term. ...
... 32 Until now, ecotoxicological research on MPs has primarily used marine animals (77%) rather than freshwater organisms (23%). 2 Many studies addressing the ecotoxicity of plastic pollution have focused on marine environments ( Figure 1). However, recent studies have revealed that freshwater ecosystems are also subject to plastic pollution. ...
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The environmental impacts of plastic pollution have recently attracted universal attention, especially in the aquatic environment. However, research has mostly been focused on marine ecosystems, even though freshwater ecosystems are equally if not more polluted by plastics. In addition, the mechanism and extent to which plastic pollution affects aquatic biota and the rates of transfer to organisms through food webs eventually reaching humans are poorly understood, especially considering leaching hazardous chemicals. Several studies have demonstrated extreme toxicity in freshwater organisms such Daphnia. When such keystone species are affected by ambient pollution, entire food webs are destabilized and biodiversity is threatened. The unremitting increase in plastic contaminants in freshwater environments would cause impairments in ecosystem functions and structure, leading to various kinds of negative ecological consequences. As various studies have reported the effects on daphnids, a consolidation of this literature is critical to discuss the limitations and knowledge gaps and to evaluate the risk posed to the aquatic environment. This review was undertaken due to the evident need to evaluate this threat. The aims were to provide a meaningful overview of the literature relevant to the potential impact of plastic pollution and associated contaminants on freshwater daphnids as primary consumers. A critical evaluation of research gaps and perspectives is conducted to provide a comprehensive risk assessment of microplastic as a hazard to aquatic environments. We outlined the challenges and limitations to microplastic research in hampering better‐focused investigations that could support the development of new plastic materials and/or establishment of new regulations.
... This result is surprising as the literature would suggest that for density reasons, PS microplastics may be available not only in the water column but also in the sediment, representing a higher risk for both pelagic and demersal organisms. In comparison, PE microplastics have a lower density, presenting a higher availability in the water column, and potentially pose a higher risk for pelagic organisms [65][66][67]. Furthermore, despite exposure to similar concentrations, the bioaccumulation kinetics parameters of nanoplastics (e.g., concentration factor, assimilation efficiency, elimination rates) from these two biological models are unknown and most likely different. ...
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Due to their various properties as polymeric materials, plastics have been produced, used and ultimately discharged into the environment. Although some studies have shown their negative impacts on the marine environment, the effects of plastics on freshwater organisms are still poorly studied, while they could be widely in contact with this pollution. The current work aimed to better elucidate the impact and the toxicity mechanisms of two kinds of commercial functionalized nanoplastics, i.e., carboxylated polystyrene microspheres of, respectively, 350 and 50 nm (PS350 and PS50), and heteroaggregated PS50 with humic acid with an apparent size of 350 nm (PSHA), all used at environmental concentrations (0.1 to 100 µg L−1). For this purpose, two relevant biological and aquatic models—amphibian larvae, Xenopus laevis, and dipters, Chironomus riparius—were used under normalized exposure conditions. The acute, chronic, and genetic toxicity parameters were examined and discussed with regard to the fundamental characterization in media exposures and, especially, the aggregation state of the nanoplastics. The size of PS350 and PSHA remained similar in the Xenopus and Chironomus exposure media. Inversely, PS50 aggregated in both exposition media and finally appeared to be micrometric during the exposition tests. Interestingly, this work highlighted that PS350 has no significant effect on the tested species, while PS50 is the most prone to alter the growth of Xenopus but not of Chironomus. Finally, PSHA induced a significant genotoxicity in Xenopus.
... Up to date, microplastic ingestion have been reported from many aquatic animals including zooplankton (Cole et al., 2013), turtles (Duncan et al., 2019), sea birds (Bourdages et al., 2021), fish (Wang et al., 2020), cetaceans (Lusher et al., 2015). MPs ingestion may cause accumulation in the digestive tract, oxidative stress, reduction in feeding (de Sá et al., 2018), inflammation (Pirsaheb et al., 2020), release of toxic chemicals into tissues (Amelia et al., 2021). ...
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Nowadays, the majority of marine debris consists of microplastic particles. For that reason, microplastic pollution in marine environments and its potential impacts on marine animals has been extensively studied. This study was developed to investigate the bioindicator potential of Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828) for the monitoring of microplastic pollution. A totally, 21 individuals were sampled from Iskenderun Bay, northeastern Mediterranean Sea on April 2022, and their gastrointestinal tracts were examined for microplastic occurrence. Mean microplastic abundance was found as 2.06±1.88 particles/individual in positive samples and 1.47±1.83 particles/individual in total samples. The microplastic detection rate was estimated as 71%. In terms of color, black (55%), blue (32%), red (10%) and brown (3%) microplastic particles were detected. Among all, the majority of the extracted particles were fiber in shape (93%) and followed by fragments (7%). The high frequency of detection and microplastic abundance estimated in this study showed that this specie could be used to monitor microplastic pollution in marine environments.
... PE and PET have lower and higher densities than water, respectively, that lead to the distribution of these MPs between different compartments (Teng et al., 2021). Some studies provided important information for the ecological risk assessment of PP and PVC MPs/NPs in different organisms (Boyle et al., 2020;de Sá et al., 2018; (Gaylor et al., 2013). ...