Project description:Microplastic particles ubiquitously found in the environment are ingested by a huge variety of organisms. Subsequently, microplastic particles can translocate from the gastrointestinal tract into the tissues likely by cellular internalization. The reason for cellular internalization is unknown, since this has only been shown for specifically surface-functionalized particles. We show that environmentally exposed microplastic particles were internalized significantly more often than pristine microplastic particles into macrophages. We identified biomolecules forming an eco-corona on the surface of microplastic particles, suggesting that environmental exposure promotes the cellular internalization of microplastics. Our findings further indicate that cellular internalization is a key route by which microplastic particles translocate into tissues, where they may cause toxicological effects that have implications for the environment and human health.
Project description:Plastic pollution is a rapidly worsening environmental problem, especially in oceanic habitats. Environmental pollution with microplastic particles is also causing food consumed by humans to be increasingly polluted, including table salts. Therefore, we present the first study which focuses only on table salt products purchased in Taiwan which we examined for the presence of microplastics. We used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to identify the polymer type of each particle. Within 4.4?kg of salt, we detected 43 microplastic particles which averages to 9.77 microplastic particles/kg. The identified polymer types were, in descending abundance, polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyester, polyetherimide, polyethylene terephthalate, and polyoxymethylene. We combined our novel results with those of previous studies to provide the first global review of microplastic contamination of table salts. We found that 94% of salt products tested worldwide contained microplastics, with 3 out of 27 polymer types (polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, polyethylene) accounting for the majority of all particles. Averaging over seven separate studies, table salts contain a mean of 140.2 microplastic particles/kg. With a mean annual salt consumption of ~3.75?kg/year, humans therefore annually ingest several hundred microplastic particles from salt alone.
Project description:Microplastics are an environmental contaminant of growing concern, but there is a lack of information about microplastic distribution, persistence, availability, and biological uptake in freshwater systems. This is especially true for large river systems like the Colorado River that spans multiple states through mostly rural and agricultural land use. This study characterized the quantity and morphology of microplastics in different environmental compartments in two large reservoirs along the Colorado River: Lakes Mead and Mohave, within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. To assess microplastic occurrence, surface water and surficial sediment were sampled at a total of nine locations. Sampling locations targeted different sub-basins with varying levels of anthropogenic impact. Las Vegas Wash, a tributary which delivers treated wastewater to Lake Mead, was also sampled. A sediment core (33 cm long, representing approximately 19 years) was extracted from Las Vegas Bay to assess changes in microplastic deposition over time. Striped bass (Morone saxatilis), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis), and Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea) were sampled at a subset of locations to assess biological uptake of microplastics. Microplastic concentrations were 0.44-9.7 particles/cubic meter at the water surface and 87.5-1,010 particles/kilogram dry weight (kg dw) at the sediment surface. Sediment core concentrations were 220-2,040 particles/kg dw, with no clear increasing or decreasing trend over time. Shellfish microplastic concentrations ranged from 2.7-105 particles/organism, and fish concentrations ranged from 0-19 particles/organism. Fibers were the most abundant particle type found in all sample types. Although sample numbers are small, microplastic concentrations appear to be higher in areas of greater anthropogenic impact. Results from this study improve our understanding of the occurrence and biological uptake of microplastics in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and help fill existing knowledge gaps on microplastics in freshwater environments in the southwestern U.S.
Project description:Microplastic is a contaminant of concern worldwide. Rivers are implicated as major pathways of microplastic transport to marine and lake ecosystems, and microplastic ingestion by freshwater biota is a risk associated with microplastic contamination, but there is little research on microplastic ecology within freshwater ecosystems. Microplastic uptake by fish is likely affected by environmental microplastic abundance and aspects of fish ecology, but these relationships have rarely been addressed. We measured the abundance and composition of microplastic in fish and surface waters from 3 major tributaries of Lake Michigan, USA. Microplastic was detected in fish and surface waters from all 3 sites, but there was no correlation between microplastic concentrations in fish and surface waters. Rather, there was a significant effect of functional feeding group on microplastic concentration in fish. Neogobius melanostomus (round goby, a zoobenthivore) had the highest concentration of gut microplastic (19 particles fish<sup>-1</sup>) compared to 10 other fish taxa measured, and had a positive linear relationship between body size and number of microplastic particles. Surface water microplastic concentrations were lowest in the most northern, forested watershed, and highest in the most southern, agriculturally dominated watershed. Results suggest microplastic pollution is common in river food webs and is connected to species feeding characteristics. Future research should focus on understanding the movement of microplastic from point-source and diffuse sources and into aquatic ecosystems, which will support pollution management efforts on inland waters.
Project description:Recent studies suggest size-selective removal of small plastic particles from the ocean surface, an observation that remains unexplained. We studied one of the hypotheses regarding this size-selective removal: the formation of a biofilm on the microplastics (biofouling). We developed the first theoretical model that is capable of simulating the effect of biofouling on the fate of microplastic. The model is based on settling, biofilm growth, and ocean depth profiles for light, water density, temperature, salinity, and viscosity. Using realistic parameters, the model simulates the vertical transport of small microplastic particles over time, and predicts that the particles either float, sink to the ocean floor, or oscillate vertically, depending on the size and density of the particle. The predicted size-dependent vertical movement of microplastic particles results in a maximum concentration at intermediate depths. Consequently, relatively low abundances of small particles are predicted at the ocean surface, while at the same time these small particles may never reach the ocean floor. Our results hint at the fate of "lost" plastic in the ocean, and provide a start for predicting risks of exposure to microplastics for potentially vulnerable species living at these depths.
Project description:Despite great general benefits derived from plastic use, accumulation of plastic material in ecosystems, and especially microplastic, is becoming an increasing environmental concern. Microplastic has been extensively studied in aquatic environments, with very few studies focusing on soils. We here tested the idea that microplastic particles (polyethylene beads) could be transported from the soil surface down the soil profile via earthworms. We used Lumbricus terrestris L., an anecic earthworm species, in a factorial greenhouse experiment with four different microplastic sizes. Presence of earthworms greatly increased the presence of microplastic particles at depth (we examined 3 soil layers, each 3.5?cm deep), with smaller PE microbeads having been transported downward to a greater extent. Our study clearly shows that earthworms can be significant transport agents of microplastics in soils, incorporating this material into soil, likely via casts, burrows (affecting soil hydraulics), egestion and adherence to the earthworm exterior. This movement has potential consequences for exposure of other soil biota to microplastics, for the residence times of microplastic at greater depth, and for the possible eventual arrival of microplastics in the groundwater.
Project description:The lack of standard approaches in microplastic research limits progress in the abatement of plastic pollution. Here, we propose and test rescaling methods that are able to improve the alignment of methods used in microplastic research. We describe a method to correct for the differences in size ranges as used by studies reporting microplastic concentrations and demonstrate how this reduces the variation in aqueous-phase concentrations caused by method differences. We provide a method to interchange between number, volume, and mass concentrations using probability density functions that represent environmental microplastic. Finally, we use this method to correct for the incompatibility of data as used in current species sensitivity distributions (SSDs), caused by differences in the microplastic types used in effect studies and those in nature. We derived threshold effect concentrations from such a corrected SSD for freshwater species. Comparison of the rescaled exposure concentrations and threshold effect concentrations reveals that the latter would be exceeded for 1.5% of the known surface water exposure concentrations worldwide. Altogether, this toolset allows us to correct for the diversity of microplastic, to address it in a common language, and to assess its risks as one environmental material.
Project description:Within the past decade, an alarm was raised about microplastics in the remote and seemingly pristine Arctic Ocean. To gain further insight about the issue, microplastic abundance, distribution and composition in sea ice cores (n?=?25) and waters underlying ice floes (n?=?22) were assessed in the Arctic Central Basin (ACB). Potential microplastics were visually isolated and subsequently analysed using Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy. Microplastic abundance in surface waters underlying ice floes (0-18 particles m-3) were orders of magnitude lower than microplastic concentrations in sea ice cores (2-17 particles L-1). No consistent pattern was apparent in the vertical distribution of microplastics within sea ice cores. Backward drift trajectories estimated that cores possibly originated from the Siberian shelves, western Arctic and central Arctic. Knowledge about microplastics in environmental compartments of the Arctic Ocean is important in assessing the potential threats posed by microplastics to polar organisms.
Project description:We examined microplastic concentrations, size distributions, and polymer types in surface waters of a northern European dimictic lake. Two sampling methods, a pump sieving water onto filters with different pore sizes (20, 100, and 300 µm) and a common manta trawl (333 µm), were utilized to sample surface water from 12 sites at the vicinity of potential sources for microplastic emissions. The number and polymer types of microplastics in the samples were determined with optical microscopy and ?FTIR spectroscopy. The average concentrations were 0.27 ± 0.18 (mean ± SD) microplastics/m<sup>3</sup> in manta trawled samples and 1.8 ± 2.3 (>300 ?m), 12 ± 17 (100-300 ?m) and 155 ± 73 (20-100 ?m) microplastics/m<sup>3</sup> in pump filtered samples. The majority (64%) of the identified microplastics (n = 168) were fibers, and the rest were fragments. Materials were identified as polymers commonly used in consumer products, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyethylene terephthalate. Microplastic concentrations were high near the discharge pipe of a wastewater treatment plant, harbors, and snow dumping site. PRACTITIONER POINTS: Samples were taken with a manta trawl (333 ?m) and a pump filtration system (300/100/20 ?m) With pump filtration, small 20-300 ?m particles were more common than >300 ?m particles The average concentration of manta trawled samples was 0.27 ± 0.18 (mean ± SD) microplastics/m<sup>3</sup> FTIR analysis revealed PE, PP, PET, and PAN to be the most common polymers.
Project description:Accumulation of plastic litter is accelerating worldwide. Rivers are a source of microplastic (i.e., particles <5?mm) to oceans, but few measurements of microplastic retention in rivers exist. We adapted spiraling metrics used to measure particulate organic matter transport to quantify microplastic deposition using an outdoor experimental stream. We conducted replicated pulse releases of three common microplastics: polypropylene pellets, polystyrene fragments, and acrylic fibers, repeating measurements using particles with and without biofilms. Depositional velocity (vdep; mm/s) patterns followed expectations based on density and biofilm 'stickiness', where vdep was highest for fragments, intermediate for fibers, and lowest for pellets, with biofilm colonization generally increasing vdep. Comparing microplastic vdep to values for natural particles (e.g., fine and coarse particulate organic matter) showed that particle diameter was positively related to vdep and negatively related to the ratio of vdep to settling velocity (i.e., sinking rate in standing water). Thus, microplastic vdep in rivers can be quantified with the same methods and follows the same patterns as natural particles. These data are the first measurements of microplastic deposition in rivers, and directly inform models of microplastic transport at the landscape scale, making a key contribution to research on the global ecology of plastic waste.