RICERCHE DI AUTORI ITALIANI

Human airway organoids and microplastic fibers: A new exposure model for emerging contaminants

Anna Sophie Winkler, Alessandro Cherubini, Francesco Rusconi, Nadia Santo, Laura Madaschi, Clelia Pistoni , Giorgia Moschetti , Maria Lucia Sarnicola, Mariacristina Crosti, Lorenzo Rosso, Paolo Tremolada, Lorenza Lazzari, Renato Bacchetta

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) structured organoids are the most advanced in vitro models for studying human health effects, but their application to evaluate the biological effects associated with microplastic exposure was neglected until now. Fibers from synthetic clothes and fabrics are a major source of airborne microplastics, and their release from dryer machines is poorly understood. We quantified and characterized the microplastic fibers (MPFs) released in the exhaust filter of a household dryer and tested their effects on airway organoids (1, 10, and 50 µg mL−1) by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal microscopy and quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). While the presence of MPFs did not inhibit organoid growth, we observed a significant reduction of SCGB1A1 gene expression related to club cell functionality and a polarized cell growth along the fibers. The MPFs did not cause relevant inflammation or oxidative stress but were coated with a cellular layer, resulting in the inclusion of fibers in the organoid. This effect could have long-term implications regarding lung epithelial cells undergoing repair. This exposure study using human airway organoids proved suitability of the model for studying the effects of airborne microplastic contamination on humans and could form the basis for further research regarding the toxicological assessment of emerging contaminants such as micro- or nanoplastics.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107200

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Microplastics pollution in the terrestrial environments: Poorly known diffuse sources and implications for plants
Claudia Campanale, Silvia Galafassi, Ilaria Savino, Carmine Massarelli, Valeria Ancona, Pietro Volta, Vito Felice Uricchio
Abstract

Research on microplastics (MPs) in the terrestrial environment is currently at a still embryonal stage. The current knowledge concerning poorly known diffuse sources of MPs pollution in terrestrial ecosystems have been considered in this work. In addition, a particular focus on the presence, mechanism of absorption and effects of MPs in plants has also been provided. Research concerning microplastics in urban areas and their intake by Tyre and Road Wear Particulates (TWRP) demonstrated a high contribution of this plastic debris to microplastic pollution, although quantification of these inputs is challenging to assess because studies are still very few. Around 50% of particles are expected to remain in the roadside soil, while the rest is transported away by the runoff with high concentrations of TRWP with a size ranging between 0.02 and 0.1 mm. Natural and anthropic environments like temporary ponds, stormwater retention ponds and small waterbodies were considered sensitive connecting ecosystems rich in biodiversity between terrestrial and aquatic environments. Even if studies are not yet exhaustive and just eight studies were currently published concerning these ecosystems, considerable values of MPs were already observed both in the sediment and water phase of ponds. Although still poorly explored, agricultural environments were already demonstrated to hide a significant number of microplastics linked mainly to agricultural activities and practices (e.g. mulch, sewage and compost fertilisation). However, the microplastics transportation processes into the soil are still understudied, and a few works are available. Microplastics and primarily nanoplastics presence was also observed in common edible plants (fruit and vegetables) with alarming Estimated Daily Intakes ranging from 2.96 × 1004 to 4.62 × 1005 (p kg−1 day−1) for adults depending on species. In addition, adverse effects on plants growth, photosynthetic activity, antioxidant system and nutritional values of several common fruits and vegetables were also demonstrated by several studies. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150431

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Microplastics pollution in the terrestrial environments: Poorly known diffuse sources and implications for plants
Michele Mistri, Andrea Augusto Sfriso, Elia Casoni, Maria Nicoli, Carmela Vaccaro, Cristina Munari

Abstract

We assessed the presence and concentration of microplastics in fishes from the Northern Adriatic Sea on sale for human consumption. Microplastics were extracted from the digestive tract of 180 specimens, belonging to 6 different species (2 pelagic, and 4 demersal). Microplastics were identified through Nile red staining, and selected particles were analyzed by μ-Raman spectroscopy. The 47.8% of examined fish were found to contain microplastics (233 fragments). The mean concentration of microplastics in the 6 species ranged between 4.11 ± 2.85 items/individual in Adriatic soles, and 1.75 ± 0.71 items/individual in pilchards. Microplastics ranged in size between 0.054 mm and 0.765 mm. Polyethylene and polypropylene were the polymer types identified through μ-Raman spectroscopy. Despite our estimates are underestimations, these results are of particular concern, as the fish analyzed are consumed without being eviscerated, and the microplastics they contain are transferred directly to humans.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.113279

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Physical and chemical threats posed by micro(nano)plastic to sea urchins

Sonia Manzo, Simona Schiavo

Abstract

The awareness of the plastic issue is rising in recent years. Our seas and coastal seawaters are investigated with the aim to evaluate the possible fate, behavior and the impact of these novel contaminants upon marine biota. In particular, benthic organisms are exposed to micro(nano)plastics that sink and accumulated on the seabed. Sea urchins can be prone to the plastic impact for all their lifespan with effect that can be extended upon the trophic cascade since their key role as grazer organisms. Moreover, they are largely used in the assessment of contaminant impact both as adult individuals and as early larval stages. This review analyzes the recent literature about the chemical and physical hazards posed by diverse polymers to sea urchins, in relation to their peculiar characteristics and to their size. The search was based on a query of the keyword terms: microplastic _ OR nanoplastic_AND Sea urchins in Web of Science and Google Scholar.

 

The effects provoked by exposure of different sea urchin biological form are highlighted, considering both laboratory exposure and collection in real world. Additional focus has also been given upon the exposure methods utilized in laboratory test and in the existing limitations in the testing procedures. In conclusion, the micro(nano)plastics major impact seemed to be attributable to leaching compounds, however variability and lacking of realisms in the procedures do not allow a full understanding of the hazard posed by micro(nano)plastics for sea urchins. Finally, the work provides insights into the future research strategies to better characterize the actual risk for sea urchins.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152105

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Spatial distribution of microplastics in volcanic lake water and sediments: Relationships with depth and sediment grain size

Alessandra Cera, Martina Pierdomenico, Armida Sodo, Massimiliano Scalici

Abstract

Microplastics (plastics <5 mm) are globally widespread pollutants of aquatic ecosystems. As microplastics contaminate both water and sediments, research on their spatial distribution in these different environmental matrices has increased. However, fresh waters are poorly studied and even less so are lentic ecosystems. To contribute filling this knowledge gap, this study analyses the distribution of microplastics in the water column and surface sediments of a volcanic lake, namely Lake Bracciano. Furthermore, it analyses in more detail the relationship between the concentration of microplastics in sediments, its grain size and the sampling depth (i.e. nearshore or deep). Water and sediment sampling was carried out in different sectors of the lake (northern, eastern, southern, western) using a plankton net and a van Veen grab sampler, respectively. Two sediment samples were collected at each station in order to analyse the abundance of microplastic and to perform grain size analysis. Results show a mean concentration of 2.4 items m−3 in water and 42 items kg−1 in sediments. The distribution of microplastics is uneven between the different sampling stations, with the northern sector being the most contaminated in both matrices. The chemical composition and shape of microplastics vary between water and sediment. In particular, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride are the most abundant polymers in water and sediments, respectively. Fibres are the main shape of microplastics in water while fragments are more abundant in sediments. In-depth analysis of sediment shows that sediments from deep stations are more contaminated than nearshore samples and have more fragment-shaped microplastics than fibre-shaped ones. Furthermore, there is a significant positive correlation between the concentration of microplastics and the abundance of silt, confirming data emerging from the scientific literature on marine and lotic ecosystems.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154659

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Microplastic pollution in show cave sediments: First evidence and detection technique

Valentina Balestra, Rossana Bellopede

Abstract

Microplastic particles are a global problem, which has been widely found in marine and terrestrial environments. However, microplastic pollution in caves and karst aquifers is still poorly studied. To improve the current knowledge of microplastic pollution, we investigated the sediments of a show cave in Italy. We developed a methodology based on a cave-adapted version of the methods used in several studies to detect microplastics from sediments of different environments and with various laboratory tests. The microplastics were extracted from sediments via density separation and subjected to organic matter removal. Filters were observed with and without UV light under a microscope, before and after organic matter removal, and the microplastics were characterised according to shape, colour, and size, with visual identification. About 55% of the fibres observed under the microscope on filters were removed via organic matter removal. An average of 4390 items/kg dry weight was calculated for the touristic zone and 1600 items/kg dry weight for the speleological/research section. Fibre (84.9%) was the most abundant shape, and most microplastics were smaller than 1 mm, accounting for 85.4%, of which 58.4% were shorter than 0.5 mm. The highest microplastic abundance was fluorescent under UV light (87.7%); however, 12.3% of the microplastics observed on filters were not fluorescent. Most fluorescent fibres were transparent (84%), whereas blue (46.1%) and black (22.4%) fibres were more common for the non-fluorescent ones. Our results highlight the presence of microplastics in show caves, and we provide a valid non-invasive and non-expensive analytical technique for the preparation and isolation of microplastics from cave sediments, giving useful information for evaluating the environmental risks posed by microplastics in show caves.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.118261

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Impact of microplastics on growth, photosynthesis and essential elements in Cucurbita pepo L
Ilaria Colzi, Luciana Renna, Elisabetta Bianchi, Maria Beatrice Castellani, Andrea Coppi, Sara Pignattelli, Stefano Loppi, Cristina Gonnelli
Abstract

In this study, Cucurbita pepo L., one of the most cultivated, consumed and economically important crop worldwide, was used as model plant to test the toxic effects of the four most abundant microplastics identified in contaminated soils, i.e. polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyvinylchloride (PVC), and polyethyleneterephthalate (PET). Cucurbita plants were grown in pots with increasing concentrations of the microplastics, then plant biometry, photosynthetic parameters and ionome of treated vs. untreated samples were compared to evaluate the toxicity of each plastic. All the pollutants impaired root and, especially, shoot growth. Specific and concentration-dependant effects of the different microplastics were found, including reduction in leaf size, chlorophyll content and photosynthetic efficiency, as well as changes in the micro- and macro-elemental profile. Among all the microplastics, PVC was identified as the most toxic and PE as the less toxic material. PVC decreased the dimensions of the leaf lamina, the values of the photosynthetic performance index and the plant iron concentration to a higher extent in respect to the other treatments. Microplastic toxicity exerted on the growth of C. pepo raises concerns about possible yield and economic loss, as well as for risks of a possible transfer into the food chain. 

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127238

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The Pressing Issue of Micro- and Nanoplastic Contamination: Profiling the Reproductive Alterations Mediated by Oxidative Stress
Maria Carmela Ferrante,Anna Monnolo,Filomena Del Piano,Giuseppina Mattace Raso and Rosaria Meli
Abstract

Micro- and nanoplastics (MPs/NPs) are among the most widely distributed pollutants in the environment. It has been suggested that exposure to MPs/NPs can trigger toxicity pathways among which inflammation and oxidative stress (OS) play a pivotal role. Once absorbed, MPs/NPs may act locally or access the bloodstream and, following the translocation process, reach several organs and tissues, including the gonads. Notably, MPs/NPs can bioaccumulate in human and murine placenta, opening new scenarios for toxicological evaluations. We review recent studies on the effects of MPs/NPs on the reproductive health in aquatic and terrestrial organisms of both sexes, focusing on the role of OS and the antioxidant defence system failure as the main underlying mechanisms. Alterations in gametogenesis, embryonic and offspring development, and survival have been shown in most studies and often related to a broken redox balance. All these detrimental effects are inversely related to particle size, whereas they are closely linked to shape, plastic polymer type, superficial functionalization, concentration, and time of exposure. To date, the studies provide insights into the health impacts, but no conclusions can be drawn for reproduction toxicity. The main implication of the few studies on antioxidant substances reveals their potential role in mitigating MP-induced toxic effects.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox11020193

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Classification and distribution of freshwater microplastics along the Italian Po river by hyperspectral imaging
Ludovica Fiore, Silvia Serranti, Cristina Mazziotti, Elena Riccardi, Margherita Benzi & Giuseppe Bonifazi 
Abstract

In this work, freshwater microplastic samples collected from four different stations along the Italian Po river were characterized in terms of abundance, distribution, category, morphological and morphometrical features, and polymer type. The correlation between microplastic category and polymer type was also evaluated. Polymer identification was carried out developing and implementing a new and effective hierarchical classification logic applied to hyperspectral images acquired in the short-wave infrared range (SWIR: 1000–2500 nm). Results showed that concentration of microplastics ranged from 1.89 to 8.22 particles/m3, the most abundant category was fragment, followed by foam, granule, pellet, and filament and the most diffused polymers were expanded polystyrene followed by polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyamide, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride, with some differences in polymer distribution among stations. The application of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) as a rapid and non-destructive method to classify freshwater microplastics for environmental monitoring represents a completely innovative approach in this field.

 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-18501-x

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Additives, plasticizers, small microplastics ( <100 μm), and other microlitter components in the gastrointestinal tract of commercial teleost fish: Method of extraction, purification, quantification, and characterization using Micro-FTIR
Fabiana Corami, Beatrice Rosso, Andrea Augusto Sfriso, Andrea Gambaro, Michele Mistri, Cristina Munari, Carlo Barbante 
Abstract

One of the aims of this study is the development of a pretreatment method for additives, plasticizers and other components of micro-litter (APFs), and small microplastics (SMPs <100 μm) in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of five of the most widely distributed and consumed commercial fish species, Engraulis encrasiculos, Sardina pilchardus, Mullus surmuletus, Solea solea, and Sparus aurata. The second aim was to develop a simultaneous quantification and identification method via Micro-FTIR of APFs and SMPs ingested by these commercial fish species. The distribution of SMPs and APFs is characteristically different for each species investigated. E. encrasiculos and S. pilchardus had a higher weight of SMPs than the other species investigated. Regarding APFs, the highest abundance was observed in E. encrasiculos. This study highlights the importance of studying additives and plasticizers that can be used as efficient proxies of microplastics, as shown by the presence of vulcanizing agents such as Vanax®.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113477

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Hazardous contaminants in plastics contained in compost and agricultural soil
Costanza Scopetani, David Chelazzi, Alessandra Cincinelli, Tania Martellini, Ville Leiniö, Jukka Pellinen
Abstract

Macro-, meso- and microplastic (MAP, MEP, MP) occurrence in compost is an environmental issue whose extent and effects are not yet understood. Here, we studied the occurrence of MAPs, MEPs and MPs in compost samples, and the transfer of hazardous contaminants from plastics to compost and soil. MAPs/MEPs and MPs concentrations in compost were 6.5 g/kg and 6.6 ± 1.5 pieces/kg; from common recommendations for compost application, we estimated ∼4–23 × 107 pieces MPs and 4–29 × 104 g MAPs/MEPs ha−1 per year ending into agricultural soils fertilized with such compost. Regarding contaminants, bis(ethylhexyl) phthalate, acetyl tributyl citrate, dodecane and nonanal were extracted in higher concentrations from plastics and plastic-contaminated compost than from compost where MAPs/MEPs had been removed prior to extraction and analysis. However, some contaminants were present even after MAPs/MEPs removal, ascribable to short- and long-term release by MAPs/MEPs, and to the presence of MPs. DEHP concentration was higher in soils where compost was applied than in fields where it was not used. These results, along with estimations of plastic load to soil from the use of compost, show that compost application is a source of plastic pollution into agricultural fields, and that plastic might transfer hazardous contaminants to soil.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.133645

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Autophagic event and metabolomic disorders unveil cellular toxicity of environmental microplastics on marine polychaete Hediste diversicolor
Omayma Missawi, Massimo Venditti, Tiziana Cappello, Nesrine Zitouni, Giuseppe DE. Marco, Iteb Boughattas, Noureddine Bousserrhine, Sabrina Belbekhouche, Sergio Minucci, Maria Maisano, Mohamed Banni
Abstract

Although the hazards of microplastics (MPs) have been quite well explored, the aberrant metabolism and the involvement of the autophagy pathway as an adverse response to environmental MPs in benthic organisms are still unclear. The present work aims to assess the impact of different environmental MPs collected from the south coast of the Mediterranean Sea, composed by polyethylene (PE), polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polyamide (PA) on the metabolome and proteome of the marine polychaete Hediste diversicolor. As a result, all the microplastic types were detected with Raman microspectroscopy in polychaetes tissues, causing cytoskeleton damage and induced autophagy pathway manifested by immunohistochemical labeling of specific targeted proteins, through Tubulin (Tub), Microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3), and p62 (also named Sequestosome 1). Metabolomics was conducted to further investigate the metabolic alterations induced by the environmental MPs-mixture in polychaetes. A total of 28 metabolites were differentially expressed between control and MPs-treated polychaetes, which showed elevated levels of amino acids, glucose, ATP/ADP, osmolytes, glutathione, choline and phosphocholine, and reduced concentration of aspartate. These novel findings extend our understanding given the toxicity of environmental microplastics and unravel their underlying mechanisms.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119106

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Detecting Micro- and Nanoplastics Released from Food Packaging: Challenges and Analytical Strategies
Claudia Cella,Rita La Spina,Dora Mehn,Francesco Fumagalli,Giacomo Ceccone,Andrea Valsesia and Douglas Gilliland 
Abstract

Micro- and nanoplastic (pMP and pNP, respectively) release is an emerging issue since these particles constitute a ubiquitous and growing pollutant, which not only threatens the environment but may have potential consequences for human health. In particular, there is concern about the release of secondary pMP and pNP from the degradation of plastic consumer products. The phenomenon is well-documented in relation to plastic waste in the environment but, more recently, reports of pMP generated even during the normal use of plastic food contact materials, such as water bottles, tea bags, and containers, have been published. So far, a validated and harmonized strategy to tackle the issue is not available. In this study, we demonstrate that plastic breakdown to pMP and pNP can occur during the normal use of polyethylene (PE) rice cooking bags and ice-cube bags as well as of nylon teabags. A multi-instrumental approach based on Raman microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and particular attention on the importance of sample preparation were applied to evaluate the chemical nature of the released material and their morphology. In addition, a simple method based on Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy is proposed for pNP mass quantification, resulting in the release of 1.13 ± 0.07 mg of nylon 6 from each teabag. However, temperature was shown to have a strong impact on the morphology and aggregation status of the released materials, posing to scientists and legislators a challenging question: are they micro- or nanoplastics or something else altogether?

 https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14061238

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Occurrence and Quantification of Natural and Microplastic Items in Urban Streams: The Case of Mugnone Creek (Florence, Italy)
Valentina Rimondi,Alessio Monnanni,Eleonora De Beni,Gabriele Bicocchi,David Chelazzi, Alessandra Cincinelli,Sara Fratini,Tania Martellini,Guia Morelli,Stefania Venturi,Pierfranco Lattanzi and Pilario Costagliola
Abstract

The terrestrial environment is an important contributor of microplastics (MPs) to the oceans. Urban streams, strictly interwoven in the city network and to the MPs’ terrestrial source, have a relevant impact on the MP budget of large rivers and, in turn, marine areas. We investigated the fluxes (items/day) of MPs and natural fibers of Mugnone Creek, a small stream crossing the highly urbanized landscape of Florence (Italy) and ending in the Arno River (and eventually to the Tyrrhenian Sea). Measurements were done in dry and wet seasons for two years (2019–2020); stream sediments were also collected in 2019. The highest loads of anthropogenic particles were observed in the 2019 wet season (109 items/day) at the creek outlet. The number of items in sediments increased from upstream (500 items/kg) to urban sites (1540 items/kg). Fibers were the dominant shape class; they were mostly cellulosic in composition. Among synthetic items, fragments of butadiene-styrene (SBR), indicative of tire wear, were observed. Domestic wastewater discharge and vehicular traffic are important sources of pollution for Mugnone Creek, especially during rain events. The study of small creeks is of pivotal importance to limit the availability of MPs in the environment.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10040159

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Polyethylene microplastics reduce filtration and respiration rates in the Mediterranean sponge Petrosia ficiformis
Lucia De Marchi, Monia Renzi, Serena Anselmi, Carlo Pretti, Elisa Guazzelli, Elisa Martinelli, Alessia Cuccaro, Matteo Oliva, Michele Magri, Fabio Bulleri
Abstract

Microplastic (MP) pollution represents a distinctive mark of the Anthropocene. Despite the increasing efforts to determine the ecological impacts of MP on marine biodiversity, our understanding of their toxicological effects on invertebrate species is still limited. Despite their key functional roles, sponges (Phylum Porifera) are particularly understudied in MP research. These filter-feeders extract and retain particles from the water column, across a broad size range. In this study, we carried out a laboratory experiment to assess the uptake of MPs (polyethylene, PE) by the Mediterranean sponge Petrosia ficiformis, how MPs influence key biological process after different times of exposure (24h and 72h) and whether they can be subsequently eliminated. MP uptake increased with time of exposure, with 30.6% of the inoculated MP particles found in sponge samples after 72h. MPs impaired filtration and respiration rates and these effects were still evident 72h after sponges had been transferred in uncontaminated water. Our study shows that time of exposure represents a key factor in determining MP toxicity in sponges. In addition, our results suggest that sponges are able to incorporate foreign particles and may thus be a potential bioindicator for MP pollutants.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.113094

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Determination of phytoplankton in water samples, algal biotoxins, microbiological parameters and microplastics in Mediterranean mussels ( Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819) from an experimental pilot farm in the Calich Lagoon (Sardinia, Italy)
Alessandro Graziano Mudadu, Anna Maria Bazzoni, Rita Melillo, Giuseppa Lorenzoni, Gabriella Piras, Sara Salza, Simona Cau,Barbara Soro,Bruna Vodret, Tiziana Tedde,Nicola Fois,Simonetto Serra, Sebastiano Virgilio and Domenico Meloni
Abstract

The aims of this paper were to collect and analyse preliminary data of phytoplankton in the water, biotoxins, Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Vibrio spp. and microplastic eventually present in farmed mussels, and to acquire information about the production capability from an experimental pilot farm of the Calich Lagoon. Two sampling sessions were carried out, in February and in May 2019, also monitoring the water condition (pH, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll a). No potentially toxic algae were detected, and moreover no biotoxins (Paralytic Shellfish Poison, Diarrheic Shellfish Poison, Amnesic Shellfish Poison) were found in mussels. E.coli was present with the highest concentration in February (16000 MPN/100g e.p.). Salmonella and Vibrio spp. have not been detected. Almost a microplastic per grams was found, mainly fiber of different colours. Further studies, carried out for several months, will allow to better understand the possible problems related to the production of mussels in a lagoon not yet classified as a shellfish production area.

 https://doi.org/10.4081%2Fijfs.2022.9973

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Airborne and marine microplastics from an oceanographic survey at the Baltic Sea: An emerging role of air-sea interaction?
Luca Ferrero, Lorenzo Scibetta, Piotr Markuszewski, Mikolaj Mazurkiewicz, Violetta Drozdowska, Przemysław Makuch, Patrycja Jutrzenka-Trzebiatowska, Adriana Zaleska-Medynska, Sergio Andò, Francesco Saliu, E. Douglas Nilsson, E. Bolzacchini 
Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) pollution is one of the most important problems of the Earth. They have been found in all the natural environments, including oceans and the atmosphere. In this study, the concentrations of both atmospheric and marine MPs were measured over the Baltic along a research cruise that started in the Gdansk harbour, till the Gotland island, and the way back. A deposition box (based on a combination of active/passive sampling) was used to collect airborne MPs while, marine MPs concentrations were investigated during the cruise using a dedicated net. Ancillary data were obtained using a combination of particle counters (OPC, LAS and CPC), Aethalometer (AE33 Magee Scientific), spectrofluorometer (sea surface samples, Varian Cary Eclipse), and meteorological sensors. Results showed airborne microplastics average concentrations higher in the Gdansk harbour (161 ± 75 m−3) compared to the open Baltic Sea and to the Gotland island (24 ± 9 and 45 ± 20 m−3). These latter values are closer to the ones measured in the sea (79 ± 18 m−3). The MPs composition was investigated using μ-Raman (for the airborne ones) and FTIR (for marine ones); similar results (e.g. polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalates, polyurethane) were found in the two environmental compartments. The concentrations and similar composition in air and sea suggested a linkage between the two compartments. For this purpose, the atmospheric MPs’ equivalent aerodynamic diameter was calculated (28 ± 3 μm) first showing the capability of atmospheric MPs to remain suspended in the air. At the same time, the computed turnover times (0.3–90 h; depending on MPs size) limited the transport distance range. The estimated MPs sea emission fluxes (4–18 ∗ 106 μm3 m−2 s−1 range) finally showed the contemporary presence of atmospheric transport together with a continuous emission from the sea surface enabling a grasshopper long-range transport of microplastics across the sea.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153709

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Microplastics in the bogue, Boops boops: A snapshot of the past from the southern Tyrrhenian Sea
Teresa Bottari, Monique Mancuso, Cristina Pedà, Francesca De Domenico, Federica Laface, Gabriella F. Schirinzi, Pietro Battaglia, Pierpaolo Consoli, Nunziacarla Spanò, Silvestro Greco, Teresa Romeo
Abstract

The present investigation focuses on Boops boops specimens gathered in the Gulf of Patti in 2010. Providing a snapshot from the past, this paper represents, chronologically, the first record of microplastic ingestion in the Mediterranean bogue. The plastic abundance and composition in gastrointestinal tracts of the bogue was assess, in order to improve the knowledge on spatial-temporal variability of microplastics pollution in the Mediterranean basin and in particular, in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea. In a total of 65 specimens, 180 particles of plastic (2.8 items/specimens), mainly belonging to microplastics class, were found. Fragments (63%) and fibres (30%) were the predominant shape categories. Eleven polymers were identified: polypropylene and polyethylene were the most abundant. Several synthetic polymers belonging to the class of elastomers were also observed. The study area is strongly influenced by the absence of trawl fishing activities and a low mixing level of the seabed that, together with the confluence of different watercourses and the presence of different kind of anthropic impact, including motorway, could make it a ‘waste disposal site’. Finally, our results suggest the usefulness to retrieve older samples to better understand spatial-temporal changes in marine litter pollution over time.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127669

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Micro – and mesoplastics in sea surface water from a Northern Adriatic coastal area
Davide Marchetto, Lavinia de Ferri, Aurelio Latella & Giulio Pojana
Abstract

The presence of microplastics in the sea is a global issue widely studied and discussed in the last years. The whole marine ecosystem is now considered at high risk because of their presence and abundance in every studied environment all over the world because polymeric materials commonly constitute the main raw materials in contemporary industrial production. The presented study reports the results obtained from surface seawater monitoring of two sampling transects in the coastal area close to the Venice Lagoon (Italy) inlet, investigated in order to get new information about the presence and relevance of plastic pollution. Plastic particles collected by means of a manta net (0.3-mm mesh size) have been characterized in detail by utilizing a multi-technique approach in order to discriminate them by typology, dimension, colour, spatial density and chemical composition. Such information permitted the individuation of subgroups (specific groups) of plastic micro-debris in this Northern Adriatic area.

 

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Microalgae colonization of different microplastic polymers in experimental mesocosms across an environmental gradient
Veronica Nava, Miguel G. Matias, Andreu Castillo-Escrivà, Beata Messyasz, Barbara Leoni
Abstract

A variety of organisms can colonize microplastic surfaces through biofouling processes. Heterotrophic bacteria tend to be the focus of plastisphere research; however, the presence of epiplastic microalgae within the biofilm has been repeatedly documented. Despite the relevance of biofouling in determining the fate and effects of microplastics in aquatic systems, data about this process are still scarce, especially for freshwater ecosystems. Here, our goal was to evaluate the biomass development and species composition of biofilms on different plastic polymers and to investigate whether plastic substrates exert a strong enough selection to drive species sorting, overcoming other niche-defining factors. We added microplastic pellets of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and a mix of the two polymers in 15 lentic mesocosms in five different locations of the Iberian Peninsula, and after one month, we evaluated species composition and biomass of microalgae developed on plastic surfaces. Our results, based on 45 samples, showed that colonization of plastic surfaces occurred in a range of lentic ecosystems covering a wide geographical gradient and different environmental conditions (e.g., nutrient concentration, conductivity, macrophyte coverage). We highlighted that total biomass differed based on the polymer considered, with higher biomass developed on PET substrate compared to HDPE. Microplastics supported the growth of a rich and diversified community of microalgae (242 species), with some cosmopolite species. However, we did not observe species-specificity in the colonization of the different plastic polymers. Local species pool and nutrient concentration rather than polymeric composition seemed to be the determinant factor defying the community diversity. Regardless of specific environmental conditions, we showed that many species could coexist on the surface of relatively small plastic items, highlighting how microplastics may have considerable carrying capacity, with possible consequences on the wider ecological context.

 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15989

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Toxic impact of polystyrene microplastic particles in freshwater organisms
Roberta Nugnes, Margherita Lavorgna, Elena Orlo, Chiara Russo, Marina Isidori
Abstract

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is leading to an increase of the global production of plastics since the use of personal protective equipment (PPEs, i.e. gloves, gowns, masks, packaging items), has become mandatory to prevent the spread of the virus. Plastic breaks down into micro/nano particles due to physical or chemical or biological actions into environment. Due to small dimensions, ubiquitous and persistent nature, the plastic particles represent a significant threat to ecosystems and can entry into food chains. Among the plastic polymers used for PPEs, polystyrene is less studied regarding its eco-geno-toxicity. This study aims to investigate acute, chronic and subchronic effects of the microplastic polystyrene beads (PS-MP, size 1.0 μm) on three freshwater species, the alga Raphidocelis subcapitata, the rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus, the crustacean Ceriodaphnia dubia and the benthic ostracod Heterocypris incongruens. Furthermore, the potential genotoxicity and the ROS production due to the PS-MP were also determined in C. dubia.

Results revealed that the acute effects occurred at concentrations of PS-MP in the order of dozens of mg/L in B. calyciflorus and C. dubia and hundreds of mg/L in H. incongruens.

Regarding long-term toxicity, increasing chronic effects with EC50s in the order of units (C. dubia), hundreds (B. calyciflorus) and thousands (R. subcapitata) of μg/L were observed. Both for acute and chronic/sub chronic toxicity, daphnids were more sensitive to polystyrene than ostracods. Moreover, when C. dubia neonates were exposed to the PS-MP, alterations in genetic material as well as the production of ROS occurred, starting from concentrations in the order of units of μg/L, probably due to inflammatory responses. At last, the risk quotient (RQ) as a measure of risk posed by PS-MPs in freshwater environment, was calculated obtaining a value of 7.2, higher than the threshold value of 1.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134373

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Organic enrichment can increase the impact of microplastics on meiofaunal assemblages in tropical beach systems
Cinzia Corinaldesi, Sara Canensi, Laura Carugati, Marco Lo Martire, Francesca Marcellini, Ettore Nepote, Simona Sabbatini, Roberto Danovaro
Abstract

The cumulative impact of microplastic and organic enrichment is still largely unknown. Here, we investigated the microplastic contamination, the organic enrichment and their effects on meiofaunal distribution and diversity in two islands of the Maldivian archipelago: one more pristine, and another strongly anthropized. Field studies were coupled with manipulative experiments in which microplastic polymers were added to sediments from the non-anthropized island (i.e., without organic enrichment) to assess the relative effect of microplastic pollution on meiofauna assemblages. Our results reveal that the impact of microplastic contamination on meiofaunal abundance and taxa richness was more significant in the anthropized island, which was also characterized by a significant organic enrichment. Meiofauna exposed experimentally to microplastic contamination showed: i) the increased abundance of opportunistic nematodes and copepods and ii) a shift in the trophic structure, increasing relevance in epistrate-feeder nematodes. Based on all these results, we argue that the coexistence of chronic organic enrichment and microplastics can significantly increase the ecological impacts on meiofaunal assemblages. Since microplastic pollution in the oceans is predicted to increase in the next decades, its negative effects on benthic biodiversity and functioning of tropical ecosystems are expected to worsen especially when coupled with human-induced eutrophication. Urgent actions and management plans are needed to avoid the cumulative impact of microplastic and organic enrichment.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.118415

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OMicroplastics in the abyss: a first investigation into sediments at 2443-m depth (Toulon, France)
Laura Cutroneo, Marco Capello, Alba Domi, Sirio Consani, Patrick Lamare, Paschal Coyle, Vincent Bertin, Damien Dornic, Anna Reboa, Irene Geneselli & Marco Anghinolfi 
Abstract

Plastic and microplastic pollutions are known to be widespread across the planet in all types of environments. However, relatively little about microplastic quantities in the deeper areas of the oceans is known, due to the difficulty to reach these environments. In this work, we present an investigation of microplastic (<5 mm) distribution performed in the bottom sediments of the abyssal plain off the coast and the canyon of Toulon (France). Four samples of deep-sea sediment were collected at the depth of 2443 m during the sea operations carried out by the French oceanographic cruises for the KM3NeT project. The chemical and physical characterisation of the sediment was carried out, and items were extracted from sediments by density separation and analysed by optical microscope and µRaman spectroscopy. Results show microplastics in the deep-sea sediments with a concentration of about 80 particles L−1, confirming the hypothesis of microplastics spread to abyssal sediments in the Mediterranean Sea.

 

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Microplastic abundance and biodiversity richness overlap: Identification of sensitive areas in the Western Ionian Sea
Matteo Galli, Paola Tepsich, Matteo Baini, Cristina Panti, Massimiliano Rosso, Ariadni Vafeiadou, Martha Pantelidou, Aurélie Moulins, Maria Cristina Fossi
Abstract

Plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea has been widely reported, but its impact on biodiversity has not been fully explored. Simultaneous sampling of microplastics (MP) with a manta net and surveys of large marine vertebrates were conducted along the coastal waters of Sicily (Western Ionian Sea). A total of 17 neustonic samples have been collected and 17 marine species (cetaceans, sea turtles, seabirds, and fish) have been sighted in the target area. Kernel density estimation was evaluated to highlight a possible overlap between the presence of large marine fauna and MP densities to provide a preliminary risk assessment. The highest biodiversity and MP concentration (0.197 ± 0.130 items/m2) were observed in the southernmost part of the studied area. The overlap between biodiversity hotspots and the occurrence of MP, potential contribute to the identification of sensitive areas of exposure in a poorly studied region.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113550

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Occurrence of Microplastics in Waste Sludge of Wastewater Treatment Plants: Comparison between Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) and Conventional Activated Sludge (CAS) Technologies
Gaetano Di Bella,Santo Fabio Corsino,Federica De Marines,Francesco Lopresti,Vincenzo La Carrubba,Michele Torregrossa and Gaspare Viviani 
Abstract

In this study, the presence of microplastics in the sludge of three wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) was examined. The investigated WWTPs operated based on a conventional activated sludge (CAS) process, with (W1) or without (W2) primary clarification, and a membrane bioreactor process (MBR) (W3). The microplastics (MPs) concentration in the samples of W3 was approximately 81.1 ± 4.2 × 103 particles/kg dry sludge, whereas MPs concentrations in W1 and W2 were 46.0 ± 14.8 × 103 particles/kg dry sludge and 36.0 ± 5.2 × 103 particles/kg dry sludge, respectively. Moreover, MPs mainly consisted of fragments (66–68%) in the CAS plants, whereas the fractions of MPs shapes in the MBR sludge were more evenly distributed, although fiber (47%) was the most abundant fraction. Furthermore, samples from the MBR showed a greater diversity in MPs composition. Indeed, all the main polyesters (i.e., textile fibers and polyethylene terephthalate), polyolefins (i.e., polyethylene and polypropylene) and rubber (i.e., polybutadiene) were observed, whereas only polybutadiene, cellulose acetate and polyester were detected in the CAS plants. These findings confirmed that MPs from wastewater are transferred and concentrated in the waste sludge. This is a critical finding since sludge disposal could become a new pathway for microplastic release into the environment and because MPs might affect the fouling behavior of the membrane.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12040371

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Differential effects of microplastic exposure on anuran tadpoles: A still underrated threat to amphibian conservation?
Alessandro Balestrieri, Anna Winkler, Giovanni Scribano, Andrea Gazzola, Giuditta Lastrico, Alice Grioni, Daniele Pellitteri-Rosa, Paolo Tremolada
Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) have been reported to threaten a wide variety of terrestrial, marine, and freshwater organisms. However, knowledge about the effects of MPs on anuran amphibians, one of the most threatened taxa worldwide, is still limited. To assess the effects of MPs on the growth and survival of the Italian agile frog (Rana latastei) and green toad (Bufotes balearicus), we exposed tadpoles to three different concentrations (1, 7, and 50 mg L−1) of an environmental relevant mixture of microplastics (HPDE, PVC, PS and PES), recording data on their activity level, weight and mortality rates. While the effects of MPs on green toad tadpoles were negligible, Italian agile frog tadpoles were severely affected both in terms of growth and activity level, with high mortality rates even at the lowest MP density (1 mg L−1). Our results suggest that MP contamination of freshwater habitats may contribute to the ongoing decline of anuran amphibians.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119137

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Following the fate of microplastic in four abiotic and biotic matrices along the Ticino River (North Italy)
Anna Winkler, Diego Antonioli, Andrea Masseroni, Riccardo Chiarcos, Michele Laus, Paolo Tremolada
Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are emerging contaminants in freshwater systems that have already attracted much scientific interest, but little attention has been paid to a multi-matrix analysis of MP occurrences along the length of a river. The present research provides the first record of MP contamination of four abiotic and biotic matrices from a river ecosystem simultaneously analysed. MPs were isolated and identified by micro-Fourier Transform Infrared (μ-FTIR) spectroscopy from samples collected along the Ticino River in North Italy during spring 2019. Abiotic samples were surface water (n = 18, 33 MPs m−3) and sediment (n = 18, 11 MPs kg−1), while biological samples consisted of stomach and gut content of fish (n = 18, wels catfish, Silurus glanis, 0.032 MPs g−1) and macroinvertebrates (n = 90, caddisfly larvae, Hydropsychidae, 0.03 MPs mg−1). MPs were found in biota from all stations; 44% of fish and 61% of macroinvertebrate samples contained MPs. The calculated unit-consistent concentration ratios indicate that both S. glanis and Hydropsychidae larvae had a consistent higher amount of MPs than their respective medium (sediment and water), strongly suggesting an efficient uptake pathway into organisms. MP levels in surface water, sediment, fish and macroinvertebrates were not correlated and did not increase with the river’s length. From our mass balance calculations, the Ticino River transports a consistent amount of MP (yearly load of 3.40 × 1011 ± 1.1 × 1011 MPs) to the Po River. This MP load was almost half than an estimated MP load from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). On that basis and supported by the finding that MP concentration in sediment was mostly opposed to that in surface water but was on average 750-fold higher compared to the water matrix, we surmise that the complex hydrological network of the Ticino River retains a consistent amount of MPs which might build up over time.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153638

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Intelligent polarization-sensitive holographic flow-cytometer: Towards specificity in classifying natural and microplastic fibers
Marika Valentino, Jaromír Bĕhal, Vittorio Bianco, Simona Itri, Raffaella Mossotti, Giulia Dalla Fontana, Tiziano Battistini, Ettore Stella, Lisa Miccio, Pietro Ferraro
Abstract

Micron size fiber fragments (MFFs), both natural and synthetic, are ubiquitous in our life, especially in textile clothes, being necessary in modern society. In the Earth’s aquatic ecosystem, microplastic fibers account for ~91% of microplastic pollution, thus deserving notable attention as one of the most alarming ecological problems. Accurate automatic identification of MFFs discharges in specific upstream locations is highly demanded. Computational microscopy based on Digital Holography (DH) and machine learning has been demonstrated to identify microplastics in respect to microalgae. However, DH is a non-specific optical tool, meaning it cannot distinguish different types of plastic materials. On the other hand, materials-specific assessments are pivotal to establish the environmental impact of different textile products and production processes. Spectroscopic assays can be employed to identify microplastics for their intrinsic specificity, although they are generally low-throughput and require large concentrations to enable effective measurements. Conversely, MFFs are usually finely dispersed within a water sample. Here we rely on a polarization-resolved holographic flow cytometer in a Lab-on-Chip (LoC) platform for analysing MFFs. We demonstrate that two important objectives can be achieved, i.e. adding material specificity through polarization analysis while operating in a microfluidic stream modality. Through a machine learning numerical pipeline, natural fibers (i.e. cotton and wool) can be clearly separated from synthetic microfilaments, namely PA6, PA6.6, PET, PP. Moreover, the proposed system can accurately distinguish between different polymers under investigation, thus fulfilling the specificity goal. We extract and select different features from amplitude, phase and birefringence maps retrieved from the digital holograms. These are shown to typify MFFs without the need for sample pre-treatment or large concentrations. The simplicity of the DH method for identifying MFFs in LoC-based flow cytometers could promote the use of polarization resolved field-portable analysis systems suitable for studying pollution caused by washing processes of synthetic textiles.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152708

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Detection of plastic particles in marine sponges by a combined infrared micro-spectroscopy and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach
Francesco Saliu, Greta Biale, Clarissa Raguso , Jacopo La Nasa, Ilaria Degano, Davide Seveso, Paolo Galli, Marina Lasagni, Francesca Modugno
Abstract

Plastic pollution threatens the marine environment, especially due to the adverse effects caused by micro and nano particles interacting with the marine biota. In order to provide reliable data regarding micro and nanoplastic contamination and the related impacts, efficient analytical solutions are needed. We developed a new analysis workflow that uses marine sponges to monitor plastic pollution by characterizing the plastic particles accumulated in their tissue. Specimens of cf. Haliclona (Haplosclerida) were sampled in the Maldivian archipelago. The aim was to optimize the method and to carry out a pilot study of the contamination of the related reef habitat. Particles were isolated, size fractioned, counted and submitted to morphological and chemical characterization. The constituting polymer was identified by infrared microspectroscopy for particles >25 μm, and by pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography mass spectrometry for those <25 μm. Method recoveries were between 87 and 83% and limits of quantitation (LOQs) were between 6.6 and 30.2 ng/g. Analyses showed that 70% of the sponges presented plastic contamination, with an average of 1.2 particles/g tissue for the 25–150 μm size range, and a total plastic concentration of up to 4.8 μg/g in the 0.2–25 μm size range, with polyolefin being the most represented polymer in both size ranges. Overall, the study demonstrated the reliability of the proposed analytical workflow and of the use of sponges as biosamplers for plastic particles.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.152965

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Microplastics in the Florence wastewater treatment plant studied by a continuous sampling method and Raman spectroscopy: A preliminary investigation
Maurizio Becucci, Mirco Mancini, Riccardo Campo, Enio Paris
Abstract

The presence of an ever increasing amount of plastic in the Italian river system makes it necessary to understand the contribution of their different sources. We focus on the contribution from the wastewater treatment plants to the microplastics (MPs), size less than 5 mm, conveyed to the fluvial system, and on the development of methods for their detection in this matrix. 

This study, one of the first in Italy, is aimed to investigate the content of MPs present in the effluent of the main wastewater treatment plant in Florence (Italy). We sampled wastewater during dry season to mainly quantify the contribution from civil and municipal activities to the MPs release. The samples were continuously collected over a period of 24 h at the exit of the water line using a series of 8 sieves with different mesh sizes (almost 1000 L filtered volume). The sampled material was analyzed by optical microscopy and micro-Raman spectroscopy by use of low-cost, portable instruments. The spatial resolution of the spectrometer matches the minimum dimension of the mesh size in use (38 μm). The analysis detected an average concentration of 5 MPs per liter in the 38–1000 μm diameter range, corresponding to a daily release of about 35 kg/day into the River Arno, a result in line with other studies carried out on Europe’s major rivers. We provide a classification of the polymer composition showing the predominant presence of Polypropylene (29%), Polyethylene (18%) and Polyester (14%). The MP shape classification reveals the relevance of fibers in effluents. The number of sieves used provided an accurate size distribution curve of the sampled MPs allowing to estimate, by extrapolation, a relevant quantity of MPs finer than 38 μm whose determination would otherwise require much more sophisticated methods.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152025

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Soil contamination by microplastics in relation to local agricultural development as revealed by FTIR, ICP-MS and pyrolysis-GC/MS
Khawla Chouchene, Tommaso Nacci, Francesca Modugno, Valter Castelvetro, Mohamed Ksibi
Abstract

Plastic film mulching and use of wastewaters for irrigation have been common agricultural practices for over half a century in Tunisia, especially in arid regions, resulting in the undesired creation of a pathway for microplastics (MPs) to enter farmland soil. In order to assess the extent and characteristics of soil contamination by MPs in the Moknine province, an area of intensive agricultural practices, 16 farmland soil samples were collected and characterized. The total concentration of targeted MPs was 50–880 items/kg; among them, the most common MPs type being polypropylene (PP), mainly occurring as white/transparent fibers with small size (cross section <0.3 mm). SEM images of MPs surfaces revealed multiple features related to environmental exposure and degradation. ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and pyrolysis-GC/MS analyses enabled the accurate identification of MPs separated from the embedding soil micro- and macro-aggregates. Finally, contamination of the polymeric microparticles with a broad range of metals was found by ICP-MS analysis, suggesting that MPs can be vectors for transporting heavy metals in the soil and indicators of soil contamination as a result of mismanagement of industrial wastewaters.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119016

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An In Situ Experiment to Evaluate the Aging and Degradation Phenomena Induced by Marine Environment Conditions on Commercial Plastic Granules
Cristina De Monte,Marina Locritani,Silvia Merlino,Lucia Ricci,Agnese Pistolesi and Simona Bronco
Abstract

In this paper, we present two novel experimental setups specifically designed to perform in situ long-term monitoring of the aging behaviour of commercial plastic granules (HDPE, PP, PLA and PBAT). The results of the first six months of a three year monitoring campaign are presented. The two experimental setups consist of: (i) special cages positioned close to the sea floor at a depth of about 10 m, and (ii) a box containing sand exposed to atmospheric agents to simulate the surface of a beach. Starting from March 2020, plastic granules were put into the cages and plunged in seawater and in a sandboxe. Chemical spectroscopic and thermal analyses (GPC, SEM, FTIR-ATR, DSC, TGA) were performed on the granules before and after exposure to natural elements for six months, in order to identify the physical-chemical modifications occurring in marine environmental conditions (both in seawater and in sandy coastal conditions). Changes in colour, surface morphology, chemical composition, thermal properties, molecular weight and polydispersity, showed the different influences of the environmental conditions. Photooxidative reaction pathways were prevalent in the sandbox. Abrasive phenomena acted specially in the sea environment. PLA and PBAT did not show significant degradation after six months, making the possible reduction of marine pollution due to this process negligible.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14061111

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Polystyrene nanoplastics affect seed germination, cell biology and physiology of rice seedlings in-short term treatments: Evidence of their internalization and translocation
Carmelina Spanò, Simonetta Muccifora, Monica Ruffini Castiglione, Lorenza Bellani, Stefania Bottega, Lucia Giorgetti
Abstract

Agroecosystems represent more and more a huge long-term sink for plastic compounds which inevitably undergo fragmentation, generating micro- and nano-plastics, with potential adverse effects on soil chemistry and living organisms. The present work was focused on the short-term effects of two different concentrations of polystyrene nanoplastics (PSNPs) (0.1 or 1 g L−1 suspensions) on rice seedlings starting from seed germination, hypothesizing that possible acute effects on seedlings could depend on oxidative damage trigged by PSNPs internalization. As shown by TEM analysis, PSNPs were absorbed by roots and translocated to the shoots, affected root cell ultrastructure, the germination process, seedling growth and root mitotic activity, inducing cytogenetic aberration. Treatments were not correlated with increase in oxidative stress markers, but rather with a different pattern of their localization both in roots and in shoots, impairing H2O2 homeostasis and membrane damage, despite the adequate antioxidant response recorded. The harmful effects of PSNPs on cell biology and physiology of rice seedlings could be caused not only by a direct action by the PSNPs but also by changes in the production/diffusion of ROS at the tissue/cellular level.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2022.01.012

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An effective strategy for the monitoring of microplastics in complex aquatic matrices: Exploiting the potential of near infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI)
Stefania Piarulli, Cristina Malegori, Ferrante Grasselli, Laura Airoldi, Silvia Prati, Rocco Mazzeo, Giorgia Sciutto, Paolo Oliveri
Abstract

Contamination by microplastics (MP) represents a critical environmental challenge with potential consequences at ecosystem, economic and societal levels. As the marine system is the final sink for MP, there is an urgent need to develop methods for the monitoring of synthetic particles in different marine compartments and sample matrices. Extensive evaluations are hindered by time and costs associated with to conventional MP spectroscopic analyses. The potential of near infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI) has been recently evaluated. However, NIR-HSI has been poorly studied so far, limitedly to the detection of large particles (>300 μm), and its capability for direct characterization of MP in real marine matrices has not been considered yet. In the present study, a rapid near infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI) method, coupled with a customised normalised difference image (NDI) strategy for data processing, is presented and used to detect MP down to 50 μm in environmental matrices. The proposed method is largely automated, without the need for extensive data processing, and enabled a successful identification of different polymers, both in surface water and mussel soft tissue samples, as well as on real field samples with environmentally occurring MP. NIR-HSI is applied directly on filters, without the need for particles pre-sorting or multiple sample purifications, avoiding time consuming procedures, airborne contaminations, particle degradation and loss. Thanks to the time and cost effectiveness, a large-scale implementation of this method would enable to extensively monitor the MP presence in natural environments for assessing the ecological risk related to MP contamination.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.131861

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Microplastic retention in small and medium municipal wastewater treatment plants and the role of the disinfection
Silvia Galafassi, Andrea Di Cesare, Lorenzo Di Nardo, Raffaella Sabatino, Andrea Valsesia, Francesco Sirio Fumagalli, Gianluca Corno & Pietro Volta
Abstract

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) efficiently retain microplastic particles (MPs) generated within urban areas. Among the wastewater treatment steps, disinfection has not been characterized for its potential MPs retention activity, although it has been reported that processes used to abate the bacterial load could also affect MPs concentration. For this reason, we evaluated the MPs concentration across the overall wastewater treatment process and before and after the disinfection step in four small/medium WWTPs located in the north of Italy. Most of the MPs found in the samples were fibers or fragments, smaller than 500 μm, mainly composed of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyethylene terephthalate. The retention efficiency at the outlets was higher than 94% in all the plants analyzed. More interestingly, the disinfection treatments adopted by the different WWTPs reduced MPs concentration from a minimum of 9.1% (UV treatment) to a maximum of 67.6% (chlorination), promoting a further increase of the overall retention efficiency of the WWTPs from 0.4 to 0.7%. Quantitatively, the disinfection contributes to the MPs reduction in the outlets by retaining 0.5–6.7 million MPs per day, in WWTPs that discharge 2.7–12 million MPs per day. The results of the present work underline the importance of a careful choice of the steps that constitute the wastewater treatment, including disinfection, in order to minimize MPs discharge into the natural ecosystems.

 

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Microplastics contamination of groundwater: Current evidence and future perspectives. A review
Stefano Viaroli, Michele Lancia, Viviana Re
Abstract

Groundwater is a primary water source which supplies more than 2 billion people. The increasing population and urbanization of rural areas stresses and depletes the groundwater systems, reducing the groundwater quality. Among the emerging contaminants, microplastics (MPs) are becoming an important issue due to their persistency in the environment. Seepage through the pores and fractures as well as the interaction with colloidal aggregates can partially affect the MPs dynamics in the subsoil, making the detection of the MPs in the groundwater systems challenging. Based on literature, a critical analysis of MPs in groundwater is presented from a hydrogeological point of view. In addition, a review of the MPs data potentially affecting the groundwater systems are included. MPs in groundwater may have several sources, including the atmosphere, the interaction with surface water bodies, urban infrastructures, or agricultural soils. The characterization of both the groundwater dynamics and the heterogeneity of MPs is suggested, proposing a new framework named “Hydrogeoplastic Model”. MPs detection methods aimed at characterizing the smaller fragments are necessary to clarify the fate of these contaminants in the aquifers. This review also aims to support future research on MP contamination in groundwater, pointing out the current knowledge and the future risks which could affect groundwater resources worldwide.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153851

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Quantifying spatial variation in the uptake of microplastic by mussels using biodeposit traps: A field-based study
Stefania Piarulli, Sara Scapinello, Giorgia Sciutto, Silvia Prati, Rocco Mazzeo, Andy M. Booth, Laura Airoldi
Abstract

Spatial uptake patterns of microplastics (MP) by marine species are largely unexplored under field conditions. A novel “biodeposit trap” that measure uptake and egestion of MP by suspension-feeders through the analysis of their biodeposits, was designed and used to estimate the spatial variation of these processes by mussels in field conditions. Traps containing wild or farmed mussels or control empty shells were deployed at three sites characterised by different MP concentrations and water flow conditions. A different MP dimensional composition was observed between MP pools present in biodeposit and control traps, with the latter shifted towards higher dimensional range (0.05–5 mm). Conversely, mussels accumulated small MP (0.02–0.05 mm) into their biodeposits without any significant difference between wild and farmed specimens. MP uptake rates were on average 4–5 times higher at the site where MP contamination was expected to be highest and where water flow conditions were considered moderate.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.113305

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Occurrence of microfibres in wild specimens of adult sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) from a coastal area of the central Mediterranean Sea
Carola Murano, Lisa Vaccari, Raffaella Casotti, Ilaria Corsi, Anna Palumbo
Abstract

This study investigates the occurrence of anthropogenic fibres inside wild Paracentrotus lividus at a Mediterranean coastal area in 2020. From each sea urchin, the coelomic fluid was directly analysed while digestive tracts and gonads were removed, pre-treated with trypsin (0.3%) and digested with H2O2 (10%) before analysis. A total of 260 fibres and 1 fragment were found in 100 specimens, with an average of 2.6 items/individual. Fibres were more abundant in the digestive system, less in gonads and in the coelomic fluid, respectively. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis of representative fibres identified 67% natural (cotton-based) and 33% synthetic polymers (polyester) suggesting their origin from textiles, possibly released from laundry sewages. Overall, these results encourage further in-depth investigations on fibres accumulation and potential transfer through the trophic chain up to humans.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113448

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Raman Microspectroscopy Detection and Characterisation of Microplastics in Human Breastmilk
Antonio Ragusa,Valentina Notarstefano,Alessandro Svelato,Alessia Belloni,Giorgia Gioacchini,Christine Blondeel,Emma Zucchelli,Caterina De Luca,Sara D’Avino,Alessandra Gulotta,Oliana Carnevali and Elisabetta Giorgini
Abstract

The widespread use of plastics determines the inevitable human exposure to its by-products, including microplastics (MPs), which enter the human organism mainly by ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. Once internalised, MPs may pass across cell membranes and translocate to different body sites, triggering specific cellular mechanisms. Hence, the potential health impairment caused by the internalisation and accumulation of MPs is of prime concern, as confirmed by numerous studies reporting evident toxic effects in various animal models, marine organisms, and human cell lines. In this pilot single-centre observational prospective study, human breastmilk samples collected from N. 34 women were analysed by Raman Microspectroscopy, and, for the first time, MP contamination was found in 26 out of 34 samples. The detected microparticles were classified according to their shape, colour, dimensions, and chemical composition. The most abundant MPs were composed of polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polypropylene, with sizes ranging from 2 to 12 µm. MP data were statistically analysed in relation to specific patients’ data (age, use of personal care products containing plastic compounds, and consumption of fish/shellfish, beverages, and food in plastic packaging), but no significant relationship was found, suggesting that the ubiquitous MP presence makes human exposure inevitable.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14132700

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Microplastics distribution and possible ingestion by fish in lacustrine waters (Lake Bracciano, Italy)
Alessandra Cera, Maria Sighicelli, Armida Sodo, Francesca Lecce, Patrizia Menegoni & Massimiliano Scalici 
Abstract

Understanding the spatial distribution patterns of microplastics (plastics < 5 mm) contributes to the assessment of sources and sinks of pollution thus providing information for the management of biota safety and overall ecosystem functionality. We chose a semi-closed study area, Lake Bracciano (Italy), to assess the environmental variability of contamination, focusing on the water compartment and the exposure of biota, specifically fish, by analysing the ingestion of microplastics. The focus of this study is to evaluate the concentration of microplastics in water (surface and column) across the lake and the ingestion of microplastics by two fish species of economic interest: Atherina boyeri and Coregonus lavaretus, inhabiting demersal and pelagic habitats respectively. Results show a surface contamination of 392,000 ± 417,000 items km−2 and a column one of 0.76 ± 1.00 items m−3. Fragments were the most abundant in surface while fibres in the column. Microplastics were found in C. lavaretus specimens, corresponding to contamination frequency of 5% and concentration of 0.15 items/fish. The main polymer found in water was polyethylene (81%); of minor percentages, there were various other polymers, including polystyrene and acrylic, which were also found in fish. As scientific literature provides few research where water and fish are simultaneously sampled, this investigation wants to contribute filling this knowledge gap by investigating for the first time a volcanic lake.

 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-022-20403-x

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Occurrence of Microplastics in Tap and Bottled Water: Current Knowledge

Isabella Gambino,Francesco Bagordo,Tiziana Grassi,Alessandra Panico and Antonella De Donno

Abstract

A narrative review was carried out to describe the current knowledge related to the occurrence of MPs in drinking water. The reviewed studies (n = 21) showed the presence of microplastics (MPs) in tap (TW) and bottled (BW) water, increasing concerns for public health due to the possible toxicity associated with their polymeric composition, additives, and other compounds or microorganism adsorbed on their surface. The MP concentration increase by decreasing particles size and was higher in BW than in TW. Among BW, reusable PET and glass bottles showed a higher MP contamination than other packages. The lower MP abundance in TW than in natural sources indicates a high removal rate of MPs in drinking water treatment plants. This evidence should encourage the consumers to drink TW instead of BW, in order to limit their exposure to MPS and produce less plastic waste. The high variability in the results makes it difficult to compare the findings of different studies and build up a general hypothesis on human health risk. A globally shared protocol is needed to harmonize results also in view of the monitoring plans for the emerging contaminants, including MPs, introduced by the new European regulation.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095283

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Microplastics distribution and possible ingestion by fish in lacustrine waters (Lake Bracciano, Italy)

Anna Sophie Winkler, Alessandro Cherubini, Francesco Rusconi, Nadia Santo, Laura Madaschi, Clelia Pistoni , Giorgia Moschetti , Maria Lucia Sarnicola, Mariacristina Crosti, Lorenzo Rosso, Paolo Tremolada, Lorenza Lazzari, Renato Bacchetta

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) structured organoids are the most advanced in vitro models for studying human health effects, but their application to evaluate the biological effects associated with microplastic exposure was neglected until now. Fibers from synthetic clothes and fabrics are a major source of airborne microplastics, and their release from dryer machines is poorly understood. We quantified and characterized the microplastic fibers (MPFs) released in the exhaust filter of a household dryer and tested their effects on airway organoids (1, 10, and 50 µg mL−1) by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal microscopy and quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). While the presence of MPFs did not inhibit organoid growth, we observed a significant reduction of SCGB1A1 gene expression related to club cell functionality and a polarized cell growth along the fibers. The MPFs did not cause relevant inflammation or oxidative stress but were coated with a cellular layer, resulting in the inclusion of fibers in the organoid. This effect could have long-term implications regarding lung epithelial cells undergoing repair. This exposure study using human airway organoids proved suitability of the model for studying the effects of airborne microplastic contamination on humans and could form the basis for further research regarding the toxicological assessment of emerging contaminants such as micro- or nanoplastics.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107200

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Microplastics contamination of groundwater: Current evidence and future perspectives. A review

Stefano Viaroli, Michele Lancia, Viviana Re 

Abstract

Groundwater is a primary water source which supplies more than 2 billion people. The increasing population and urbanization of rural areas stresses and depletes the groundwater systems, reducing the groundwater quality. Among the emerging contaminants, microplastics (MPs) are becoming an important issue due to their persistency in the environment. Seepage through the pores and fractures as well as the interaction with colloidal aggregates can partially affect the MPs dynamics in the subsoil, making the detection of the MPs in the groundwater systems challenging. Based on literature, a critical analysis of MPs in groundwater is presented from a hydrogeological point of view. In addition, a review of the MPs data potentially affecting the groundwater systems are included. MPs in groundwater may have several sources, including the atmosphere, the interaction with surface water bodies, urban infrastructures, or agricultural soils. The characterization of both the groundwater dynamics and the heterogeneity of MPs is suggested, proposing a new framework named “Hydrogeoplastic Model”. MPs detection methods aimed at characterizing the smaller fragments are necessary to clarify the fate of these contaminants in the aquifers. This review also aims to support future research on MP contamination in groundwater, pointing out the current knowledge and the future risks which could affect groundwater resources worldwide.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153851

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Embryotoxicity of polystyrene microplastics in zebrafish Daniorerio

Giuseppe De Marco, Gea Oliveri Conti, Alessia Giannetto, Tiziana Cappello, Mariachiara Galati, Carmelo Iaria, Eloise Pulvirenti, Fabiano Capparucci, Angela Mauceri, Margherita Ferrante, Maria Maisano 

Abstract

In the recent years, increasing scientific and societal concern has been raised over the presence and accumulation of plastic debris in the environment and the effects of microplastics (MPs) that can easily interact with biota. In order to elucidate the impact of MPs at the critical development stages of freshwater fish species, a fish embryo toxicity test was herein performed on the zebrafish Danio rerio, exposed to 10 μm polystyrene MPs at 200 particles/mL for 120 hpf. After exposure, accumulation of MPs in larvae was measured, survival, hatching and larvae development were monitored and the oxidant/anti-oxidant responses and cellular detoxification evaluated. No impact on survival of developing zebrafish was revealed, but a moderate delay in hatching was observed. Alterations in larvae development were recorded with zebrafish exhibiting serious deformities, mainly at the level of column and tail, as well as a compromised integrity of the visual structure of the eyes. Moreover, increased levels of gene transcription involved in the oxidative stress (sod1, sod2 and cat) and in cellular detoxification (gst and cyp) were also detected in MPs-exposed zebrafish larvae. Overall, this research work provides new insights on the ecotoxicological impact of polystyrene MPs on the critical developmental stages of a freshwater fish species, therefore enhancing the current knowledge of the environmental risk posed by MPs to the aquatic ecosystem.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.112552

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Mixotrophic flagellate ingestion boosts microplastic accumulation in ascidians

Roberta Pennati, Chiara Castelletti, Marco Parolini, Giorgio Scarì, Silvia Mercurio

Abstract

Microplastics are contaminants of global environmental concern. They can be ingested by a variety of organisms when they enter the food web. Several studies have reported trophic transfer of microplastics from low trophic levels to higher ones. Bioaccumulation has been suggested to occur but few studies have demonstrated it for marine environments. In this article, in controlled laboratory conditions, we exposed filter-feeder ascidian juveniles to microplastics in the presence or in absence of mixotrophic cryptomonad flagellates. Cryptomonads can efficiently ingest microbeads, and their presence significantly increased the concentration of microplastics in the digestive tract of the ascidians. Our results demonstrate the occurrence of microplastic bioaccumulation in the lower levels of the marine trophic chain and suggest that unicellular organisms can be key actors in microplastic trophic transfer at the microscale level.

 https://doi.org/10.1002/jez.2596

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Acute and chronic ingestion of polyethylene (PE) microplastics has mild effects on honey bee health and cognition

Paride Balzani, Giorgia Galeotti, Sara Scheggi, Alberto Masoni, Giacomo Santini, David Baracchi 

Abstract

The massive use of plastic has contributed to huge quantities of hazardous refuse at a global scale and represents one of the most prominent issues of the Anthropocene. Microplastics (MPs) have been detected in almost all environments and pose a potential threat to a variety of plant and animal species. Many studies have reported a variety of effects, from negligible to detrimental, of MPs to aquatic organisms. Conversely, much less is known about their effect on terrestrial biota, and particularly on animal behavior and cognition. We assessed the oral toxicity of polyethylene (PE) MPs at three different concentrations (0.5, 5, and 50 mg L−1), and at different timescales (1 day and 7 days of exposure) and tested for their effects on survival, food intake, sucrose responsiveness, habituation to sucrose and appetitive olfactory learning and memory in the honey bee Apis mellifera. We found that workers were not completely unaffected by acute and prolonged ingestion of this polymer. A significant effect of PE on bee mortality was found for the highest concentration but not for lower ones. PE affected feeding behavior in a concentration-dependent manner, with bees consuming more food than controls when exposed to low concentration PE. Regarding our behavioral and cognitive experiments, the high concentration PE was found to affect only bees’ ability to respond consistently to sucrose but not sucrose sensitivity, habituation to sucrose or learning and memory abilities, even for prolonged exposure to PE. While these last results may look somewhat encouraging, we discussed why caution is warranted before ruling out the possibility that PE particles at environmental concentrations are harmful to honey bees.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119318

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Effects and Impacts of Different Oxidative Digestion Treatments on Virgin and Aged Microplastic Particles

Ilaria Savino,Claudia Campanale,Pasquale Trotti,Carmine Massarelli,Giuseppe Corriero and Vito Felice Uricchio

Abstract

Although several sample preparation methods for analyzing microplastics (MPs) in environmental matrices have been implemented in recent years, important uncertainties and criticalities in the approaches adopted still persist. Preliminary purification of samples, based on oxidative digestion, is an important phase to isolate microplastics from the environmental matrix; it should guarantee both efficacy and minimal damage to the particles. In this context, our study aims to evaluate Fenton’s reaction digestion pre-treatment used to isolate and extract microplastics from environmental matrices. We evaluated the particle recovery efficiency and the impact of the oxidation method on the integrity of the MPs subjected to digestion considering different particles’ polymeric composition, size, and morphology. For this purpose, two laboratory experiments were set up: the first one to evaluate the efficacy of various digestion protocols in the MPs extraction from a complex matrix, and the second one to assess the possible harm of different treatments, differing in temperatures and volume reagents used, on virgin and aged MPs. Morphological, physicochemical, and dimensional changes were verified by Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Fourier Transformed Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The findings of the first experiment showed the greatest difference in recovery rates especially for polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene terephthalate particles, indicating the role of temperature and the kind of polymer as the major factors influencing MPs extraction. In the second experiment, the SEM analysis revealed morphological and particle size alterations of various entities, in particular for the particles treated at 75 °C and with major evident alterations of aged MPs to virgin ones. In conclusion, this study highlights how several factors, including temperature and polymer, influence the integrity of the particles altering the quality of the final data.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14101958

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Additives, plasticizers, small microplastics ( <100 μm), and other microlitter components in the gastrointestinal tract of commercial teleost fish: Method of extraction, purification, quantification, and characterization using Micro-FTIR

Fabiana Corami, Beatrice Rosso, Andrea Augusto Sfriso, Andrea Gambaro, Michele Mistri, Cristina Munari, Carlo Barbante

Abstract

One of the aims of this study is the development of a pretreatment method for additives, plasticizers and other components of micro-litter (APFs), and small microplastics (SMPs <100 μm) in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of five of the most widely distributed and consumed commercial fish species, Engraulis encrasiculos, Sardina pilchardus, Mullus surmuletus, Solea solea, and Sparus aurata. The second aim was to develop a simultaneous quantification and identification method via Micro-FTIR of APFs and SMPs ingested by these commercial fish species. The distribution of SMPs and APFs is characteristically different for each species investigated. E. encrasiculos and S. pilchardus had a higher weight of SMPs than the other species investigated. Regarding APFs, the highest abundance was observed in E. encrasiculos. This study highlights the importance of studying additives and plasticizers that can be used as efficient proxies of microplastics, as shown by the presence of vulcanizing agents such as Vanax®.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113477

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First detection of microplastics in reef-building corals from a Maldivian atoll

Clarissa Raguso, Francesco Saliu, Marina Lasagni, Paolo Galli, Massimiliano Clemenza, Simone Montano

Abstract

The presence of microplastics in the world’s oceans and their effects on marine habitats are highly concerning. As suspension-feeders, corals are very exposed to microplastics, compromising the health of coral reef ecosystems. In this study we surveyed for the first time the presence of microplastics in Maldivian reef-building corals. Aiming to determine the influence of exposure and depth on microplastic distribution, analyses were carried out on 38 individuals belonging to three different species. 58% of the investigated colonies resulted contaminated with particles within the 25–150 μm size range. The maximum concentration was encountered in a Pocillopora verrucosa colony sampled from a shallow inner reef (8.9 particles/g of coral). No significant differences in microplastic concentration were observed between different depths, exposures, sites and species. Overall, this study confirmed microplastic presence in coral reefs of the Maldivian archipelago including foundation species.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113773

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Microplastics as vectors of metals contamination in Mediterranean Sea

Stefania Squadrone, Sabina Pederiva, Tabata Bezzo, Rocco Mussat Sartor, Marco Battuello, Nicola Nurra, Alessandra Griglione, Paola Brizio & Maria Cesarina Abete

Abstract

Microplastics are contaminants of great concern all over the world. Microplastics constitute pollutants themselves; moreover, other contaminants such as metals are easily absorbed on their plastic surface, becoming bioavailable to marine biota such as zooplankton.

We collected marine zooplankton from Mediterranean Sea to investigate trace elements associated with microplastics. Samples were subjected to visual sorting by a stereomicroscope, collected with sterile tweezers, pooled and subjected to sonication, filtration, and drying before being subjected to acid extraction. An ICP-MS was utilized for multi-elemental determination.

Aluminum, iron, chromium, zinc, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, lead cobalt, and copper were found at concentrations of mg/kg while arsenic, vanadium, rubidium, and cadmium at level of μg kg−1. Other elements such as silver, beryllium, bismuth, selenium, tin, and thallium were under the limit of quantitation. Lower levels of iron and manganese in samples from Italy were found in comparison to England and Brazil, while aluminum, copper, and zinc registered comparable values. The presence of metals in marine waters is strictly related to sediment lithology and anthropogenic inputs, but plastic plays a key role as vectors for metal ions in the marine system, being able to concentrate metals several order of magnitude higher than in surrounding waters and exerting potential toxicity for living beings after chronic exposure.

 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-021-13662-7

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Influence of sediment texture on HDPE microplastics recovery by density separation

Maria Maisto, Maria Antonietta Ranauda, Daniela Zuzolo, Maria Tartaglia, Alessia Postiglione, Antonello Prigioniero, Alessandra Falzarano, Pierpaolo Scarano, Rosaria Sciarrillo, Carmine Guarino

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are an emerging environmental pollutant, threatening marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Because of their properties and their widely varying size (5mm-0.1 μm), it is still difficult to define a valid and efficient method for extracting MPs from solid matrices. Among the several methods proposed, density separation is the most practical and cost-effective one. Progress is still ongoing towards a deeper understanding of the advantages and limitations related to the application of density separation for MPs extraction, the recovery yields and the factors that may influence it. In this context, we introduce the following work, which provides an early-stage insight into how the sediment texture may influence the efficiency of this extraction method, and how parameters, such as sedimentation time and extraction cycles, can be modified to always achieve the best recovery. Our focus has been directed on evaluating the extraction efficiency of HDPE MPs by density separation using NaCl, from three types of sediment: sandy (SS), sandy loam (SLS) and sandy-clay loam (SCLS). We investigated the impact of sedimentation time (1, 6, 12, 24 h) and extraction cycles (3 cycles for each sedimentation time) on MPs recovery. Finally, we determined the minimum amount of MPs (MPs g/g sediment) below which it is not possible to quantify MPs with the method used. The results have shown that the recovery efficiency of MPs from sediment is structure dependent. The highest recoveries are reached after a settling time of 1 and 6 h. Furthermore, for samples with minimum clay content (SS), only one extraction cycle is needed, whereas two extraction cycles are required for SLS and SCLS. The outcomes about the detection limit (LOD) of the method, showed the existence of an interaction MPs-clay/sediment, which allowed us to understand how far this extraction method is suitable in field, thus defining the minimum grade of MPs pollution (MPs g/g sediment) below which this method is no longer capable to extract MPs from contaminated samples.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.115363

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Un-biodegradable and biodegradable plastic sheets modify the soil properties after six months since their applications

G. Santini, S. Acconcia, M. Napoletano, V. Memoli, L. Santorufo, G. Maisto

Abstract

Nowadays, microplastics represent emergent pollutants in terrestrial ecosystems that exert impacts on soil properties, affecting key soil ecological functions. In agroecosystems, plastic mulching is one of the main sources of plastic residues in soils. The present research aimed to evaluate the effects of two types of plastic sheets (un-biodegradable and biodegradable) on soil abiotic (pH, water content, concentrations of organic and total carbon, and total nitrogen) and biotic (respiration, and activities of hydrolase, dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase and urease) properties, and on phytotoxicity (germination index of Sorghum saccharatum L. and Lepidium sativum L.). Results revealed that soil properties were mostly affected by exposure time to plastics rather than the kind (un-biodegradable and biodegradable) of plastics. After six months since mesocosm setting up, the presence of un-biodegradable plastic sheets significantly decreased soil pH, respiration and dehydrogenase activity and increased total and organic carbon concentrations, and toxicity highlighted by S. saccharatum L. Instead, the presence of biodegradable plastic sheets significantly decreased dehydrogenase activity and increased organic carbon concentrations. An overall temporal improvement of the investigated properties in soils covered by biodegradable plastic sheets occurred.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119608

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Multi-endpoint effects of derelict tubular mussel plastic nets on Tigriopus fulvus

Isabella Parlapiano, Francesca Biandolino, Asia Grattagliano, Andrea Ruscito, Giusy Lofrano, Giovanni Libralato, Marco Trifuoggi, Luisa Albarano & Ermelinda Prato 

Abstract

Microplastic debris from direct and indirect human activities is considered a major threat to the marine biodiversity mainly due to its abundance, durability, persistence, and ability to accumulate contaminants from the environment. Derelict tubular plastic nets of various colours (blue (BN), yellow (YN), green (GN), pink (PN), and white (WN) net), used to distinguish mussel farming owners, were collected by scuba-dive from the Mar Piccolo of Taranto (Ionian Sea). All nets were made of polypropylene. Investigations looked for potential acute (mortality) and sub-chronic (mortality, larval development and moult release number, and adult percentage after 5–9 days) effects on Tigriopus fulvus nauplii considering both whole plastics (microplastic (MP), 50 mg/L) and leachates (12.5–100%). Acute test determined a median lethal concentration (LC50) only for BN for both MPs (107 mg/L) and leachates (50.1%). The prolonged exposure (5 days) to microplastics did not affect the T. fulvus survival. After 9 days, YN and BN decreased of approximately 100% larval development.

 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-21569-0

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Microplastics Affect the Inflammation Pathway in Human Gingival Fibroblasts: A Study in the Adriatic Sea

Sergio Caputi,Francesca Diomede,Paola Lanuti,Guya Diletta Marconi,Piero Di Carlo,Bruna Sinjari,and Oriana Trubiani

Abstract

The level of environmental microplastics in the sea is constantly increasing. They can enter the human body with food, be absorbed through the gut and have negative effects on the organism’s health after its digestion. To date, microplastics (MPs) are considered new environmental pollutants in the air sea and they are attracting wide attention. The possible toxic effects of MPs isolated at different sea depths of 1, 24 and 78 m were explored in an in vitro model of human gingival fibroblasts (hGFs). MPs isolated from the sea showed different size and were then divided into different sample groups: 1, 24 and 78 m. The results obtained revealed that MPs are able to activate the inflammatory pathway NFkB/MyD88/NLRP3. In detail, the exposure to MPs from 1 and 78 m led to increased levels of inflammatory markers NFkB, MyD88 and NLRP3 in terms of proteins and gene expression. Moreover, cells exposed to MPs showed a lower metabolic activity rate compared to unexposed cells. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate that the inflammation process is stimulated by MPs exposure, providing a new perspective to better understand the intracellular mechanism.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19137782

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The effects of nanoplastics on adipose stromal cells from swine tissues

G. Basini, S. Bussolati, L. Andriani, S. Grolli, S. Bertini, T. Iemmi, A. Menozzi, F. Quintavalla, R. Ramoni, P. Serventi, F. Grasselli

Abstract

Plastic is one of the main sources of marine and terrestrial pollution. This material can fragment into micro- (<-5 mm) and nanoplastics (NPs) (<100 nm) following degradation. Animals are exposed to these particles by ingesting contaminated food, respiration or filtration, and transdermally. In organisms, NPs can cross biological membranes, and cause oxidative stress, cell damage, apoptosis, and endocrine interference. We previously demonstrated that polystyrene – NPs interfered with ovarian cell functions. Since reproduction involves a high energy expenditure and a crucial role is played by adipose tissue, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of NPs on primary adipose stromal cells (ASCs) isolated from swine adipose tissues. In particular, the effects on cell viability, proliferation, metabolic activity, inflammatory process mediators and oxidative stress markers were assessed. The obtained results did not reveal a significant variation in cell proliferation, metabolic activity was increased (P < 0.01) but only at the lowest concentration, while viability showed a significant decrease after prolonged exposure to NPs (P < 0.01). TNF-α was increased (P < 0.05), while PAI-1 was inhibited (P < 0.001). Redox status was significantly modified; in particular, the production of O2−, H2O2 and NO was stimulated (P < 0.05), the non-enzymatic antioxidant power was reduced (P < 0.05) while catalase activity was significantly (P < 0.01) increased.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.domaniend.2022.106747

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Micro- and mesoplastics in sea surface water from a Northern Adriatic coastal area

Davide Marchetto, Lavinia de Ferri, Aurelio Latella & Giulio Pojana

Abstract

The presence of microplastics in the sea is a global issue widely studied and discussed in the last years. The whole marine ecosystem is now considered at high risk because of their presence and abundance in every studied environment all over the world because polymeric materials commonly constitute the main raw materials in contemporary industrial production. The presented study reports the results obtained from surface seawater monitoring of two sampling transects in the coastal area close to the Venice Lagoon (Italy) inlet, investigated in order to get new information about the presence and relevance of plastic pollution. Plastic particles collected by means of a manta net (0.3-mm mesh size) have been characterized in detail by utilizing a multi-technique approach in order to discriminate them by typology, dimension, colour, spatial density and chemical composition. Such information permitted the individuation of subgroups (specific groups) of plastic micro-debris in this Northern Adriatic area

 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-17874-9

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Microplastic abundance and biodiversity richness overlap: Identification of sensitive areas in the Western Ionian Sea

Matteo Galli, Paola Tepsich, Matteo Baini, Cristina Panti, Massimiliano Rosso, Ariadni Vafeiadou, Martha Pantelidou, Aurélie Moulins, Maria Cristina Fossi

Abstract

Plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea has been widely reported, but its impact on biodiversity has not been fully explored. Simultaneous sampling of microplastics (MP) with a manta net and surveys of large marine vertebrates were conducted along the coastal waters of Sicily (Western Ionian Sea). A total of 17 neustonic samples have been collected and 17 marine species (cetaceans, sea turtles, seabirds, and fish) have been sighted in the target area. Kernel density estimation was evaluated to highlight a possible overlap between the presence of large marine fauna and MP densities to provide a preliminary risk assessment. The highest biodiversity and MP concentration (0.197 ± 0.130 items/m2) were observed in the southernmost part of the studied area. The overlap between biodiversity hotspots and the occurrence of MP, potential contribute to the identification of sensitive areas of exposure in a poorly studied region.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113550

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Leached degradation products from beached microplastics: A potential threat to coastal dune plants

Virginia Menicagli, Elena Balestri, Greta Biale, Andrea Corti, Jacopo La Nasa, Francesca Modugno, Valter Castelvetro, Claudio Lardicci

Abstract

Plants play a fundamental role in maintaining coastal dunes but also accumulate littered microplastics (MPs). Migration tests suggest that naturally weathered MPs can leach out a broader range of potentially phytotoxic chemicals than virgin MPs. Thus, assessing MPs effects on plants using beached-collected particles rather than virgin ones is critically important. Here, the effects on plants of leachates from two pools of beach-collected and virgin MPs, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), and their mixture, were explored combining toxicity tests and chemical analyses. Phytotoxicity of MP leachates at different dilutions was evaluated under standard laboratory conditions using test species and under environmentally realistic conditions using the dune species Thinopyrum junceum. Leachates from beached PP and HDPE adversely affected all species, and the extent of these effects varied according to polymer type, concentration, and species. Virgin MPs had weaker effects than beached ones. Several potentially phytotoxic oxidized compounds were detected in water by GC/MS analysis, and their amount estimated. Results indicate that the molecular species leaching from beached MPs – at ppm concentration levels for the individual chemical species – can inhibit plant growth, and the effects of leachates from mixtures of degraded MPs can differ from those from individual polymers, highlighting the need for further investigation of MPs consequences for coastal ecosystems.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.135287

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Plant species-specific impact of polyethylene microspheres on seedling growth and the metabolome

Oussama Bouaicha, Raphael Tiziani, Mauro Maver, Luigi Lucini, Begoña Miras-Moreno, Leilei Zhang, Marco Trevisan, Stefano Cesco, Luigimaria Borruso, Tanja Mimmo 

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous contaminants. In recent decades, the hazardous impacts of MPs on the environment have raised significant concern. However, little attention has been focused on the interaction between MPs and plants in terrestrial agroecosystems. This study aims to investigate the effects of polyethylene microspheres (PE-MS) on the germination, morphology, and metabolism of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Specifically, seeds were soaked in PE-MS solutions at three concentrations (10, 100, and 1000 mg L−1), while control seeds were treated with distilled water. After five days, the morphological parameters of barley (i.e., shoot and root biomass, length, and average diameter) were significantly affected by PE-MS treatment, even at the lowest concentration, without a dose dependency. On the other hand, the effect of PE-MS on the morphological parameters of cucumber and tomato was evident only at the highest concentration (1000 mg L−1). PE-MS also induced metabolomic reprogramming of shoots and roots in all three plant species. There was a downregulation of fatty acids and secondary metabolites (except in tomato shoots). In addition, the response of amino acids and hormones was highly heterogeneous among species and plant parts. In particular, the response of metabolites changed within species among different plant parts.

In conclusion, we found a strong influence of MS-PE on the metabolic profile of the three plant species and a positive priming of seedling growth, especially in barley, where all the morphological parameters considered were significantly improved. Further investigations are needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying MP-plant interactions, especially in the long term.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156678

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Early evidence of the impacts of microplastic and nanoplastic pollution on the growth and physiology of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa

Virginia Menicagli, Monica Ruffini Castiglione, Elena Balestri, Lucia Giorgetti, Stefania Bottega, Carlo Sorce, Carmelina Spanò, Claudio Lardicci

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are ubiquitous in natural habitats and the risks their presence poses to marine environments and organisms are of increasing concern. There is evidence that seagrass meadows are particularly prone to accumulate plastic debris, including polystyrene particles, but the impacts of this pollutant on seagrass performance are currently unknown. This is a relevant knowledge gap as seagrasses provide multiple ecosystem services and are declining globally due to anthropogenic impact and climate-change-related stressors.

Here, we explored the potential effects of a 12 day-exposure of seagrasses to one concentration (68 μg/L) of polystyrene MPs and NPs on the growth, oxidative status, and photosynthetic efficiency of plants using the foundation species Cymodocea nodosa as a model. Among plant organs, adventitious roots were particularly affected by MPs and NPs showing complete degeneration. The number of leaves per shoot was lower in MPs- and NPs-treated plants compared to control plants, and leaf loss exceeded new leaf production in MPs-treated plants. MPs also reduced photochemical efficiency and increased pigment content compared to control plants. Shoots of NPs-treated plants showed a greater oxidative damage and phenol content than those of control plants and MPs-treated plants. Biochemical data about oxidative stress markers were consistent with histochemical results. The effects of MPs on C. nodosa could be related to their adhesion to plant surface while those of NPs to entering tissues.

Our study provides the first experimental evidence of the potential harmful effects of MPs/NPs on seagrass development. It also suggests that the exposure of seagrasses to MPs/NPs in natural environments could have negative consequences on the functioning of seagrass ecosystems. This stresses the importance of implementing cleaning programs to remove all plastics already present in marine habitats as well as of undertaking specific actions to prevent the introduction of these pollutants within seagrass meadows.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156514

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Preliminary investigation of microorganisms potentially involved in microplastics degradation using an integrated metagenomic and biochemical approach

Ginevra Giangeri, Maria Silvia Morlino, Nicola De Bernardini, Mengyuan Ji, Matteo Bosaro, Valentina Pirillo, Paolo Antoniali, Gianluca Molla, Roberto Raga, Laura Treu, Stefano Campanaro

Abstract

Plastic pollution is becoming an emerging environmental issue due to inappropriate disposal at the end of the materials life cycle. When plastics are released, they undergo physical and chemical corrosion, leading to the formation of small particles, commonly referred to as microplastics. In this study, a microbial community derived from the leachate of a bioreactor containing a mixture of soil and plastic collected during a landfill mining process underwent an enrichment protocol in order to select the microbial species specifically involved in plastic degradation. The procedure was set up and tested on polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyethylene terephthalate, both in anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The evolution of the microbiome has been monitored using a combined approach based on microscopy, marker-gene amplicon sequencing, genome-centric metagenomics, degradation assays, and GC–MS analyses. This procedure permitted us to deeply investigate the metabolic pathways potentially involved in plastic degradation and to depict the route for microplastics metabolization from the enriched microbial community. Six enzymes, among the ones already identified, were found in our samples (alkane 1-monooxygenase, cutinase, feruloyl esterase, triacylglycerol lipase, medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, and protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase) and new enzymes, addressed as MHETases most probably for the presence of the catalytic triad (His-Asp-Ser), were detected. Among the enzymes involved in plastics degradation, alkane 1-monooxygenase was found in high copy number (between ten and 62 copies) in the metagenomes that resulted most abundant in the microbiome enriched with polyethylene, while protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase was found between one and eight copies in the most abundant metagenomes of the microbial culture enriched with polyethylene terephthalate. Degradation assays, performed using both bacterial lysates and supernatants, revealed interesting results on polyethylene terephthalate degradation. Moreover, this study demonstrates to what extent different types of microplastics can affect the microbial community composition. The results obtained significantly increase the knowledge of the plastic degradation process.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157017

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Polystyrene micro and nano-particles induce metabolic rewiring in normal human colon cells: A risk factor for human health

Marcella Bonanomi, Noemi Salmistraro, Danilo Porro, Annalisa Pinsino, Anna Maria Colangelo, Daniela Gaglio

Abstract

Polystyrene is a thermoplastic polymer widely used in commercial products. Like all plastics, polystyrene can be degraded into microplastic and nanoplastic particles and ingested via food chain contamination. Although the ecological impact due to plastic contamination is well known, there are no studies indicating a carcinogenic potential of polystyrene microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs).

Here, we evaluated the effects of the MPs and NPs on normal human intestinal CCD-18Co cells. Our results show that internalization of NPs and MPs induces metabolic changes under both acute and chronic exposure by inducing oxidative stress, increasing glycolysis via lactate to sustain energy metabolism and glutamine metabolism to sustain anabolic processes. We also show that this decoupling of nutrients mirrors the effect of the potent carcinogenic agent azoxymethane and HCT15 colon cancer cells, carrying out the typical strategy of cancer cells to optimize nutrients utilization and allowing metabolic adaptation to environmental stress conditions. Taken together our data provide new evidence that chronic NPs and MPs exposure could act as cancer risk factor for human health.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134947

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SEM/EDX analysis of stomach contents of a sea slug snacking on a polluted seafloor reveal microplastics as a component of its diet

Giulia Furfaro, Marcella D’Elia, Stefania Mariano, Egidio Trainito, Michele Solca, Stefano Piraino & Genuario Belmonte

Abstract

Understanding the impacts of microplastics on living organisms in aquatic habitats is one of the hottest research topics worldwide. Despite increased attention, investigating microplastics in underwater environments remains a problematic task, due to the ubiquitous occurrence of microplastic, its multiple modes of interactions with the biota, and to the diversity of the synthetic organic polymers composing microplastics in the field. Several studies on microplastics focused on marine invertebrates, but to date, the benthic sea slugs (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Heterobranchia) were not yet investigated. Sea slugs are known to live on the organisms on which they feed on or to snack while gliding over the sea floor, but also as users of exogenous molecules or materials not only for nutrition. Therefore, they may represent a potential biological model to explore new modes of transformation and/or management of plastic, so far considered to be a non-biodegradable polymer. In this study we analysed the stomachal content of Bursatella leachii, an aplysiid heterobranch living in the Mar Piccolo, a highly polluted coastal basin near Taranto, in the northern part of the Ionian Sea. Microplastics were found in the stomachs of all the six sampled specimens, and SEM/EDX analyses were carried out to characterize the plastic debris. The SEM images and EDX spectra gathered here should be regarded as a baseline reference database for future investigations on marine Heterobranchia and their interactions with microplastics.

 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-14299-3

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Molecular, biochemical and behavioral responses of Daphnia magna under long-term exposure to polystyrene nanoplastics

Beatrice De Felice, Michela Sugni, Lavinia Casati, Marco Parolini

Abstract

The presence and potential toxicity of nanoplastics (NPs) in aquatic ecosystems is an issue of growing concern. Although many studies have investigated the adverse effects of short-term exposure to high concentrations of NPs to aquatic organisms, the information on the consequences caused by the administration of low NPs concentrations over long-term exposure is limited. The present study aimed at investigating the effects induced by a long-term exposure (21-days) to two sub-lethal concentrations of polystyrene nanoplastics (PS-NPs; 0.05 and 0.5 µg/mL) on Daphnia magna. A multi-level approach was performed to assess potential sub-individual (i.e., molecular and biochemical) and individual (i.e., behavioural) adverse effects. At molecular level, the modulation of the expression of genes involved in antioxidant defence, response to stressful conditions and specific physiological pathways was investigated. Oxidative stress (i.e., the amount of pro-oxidants, the activity of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes and lipid peroxidation) and energetic (i.e., protein, carbohydrate, lipid and total caloric content) biomarkers were applied to assess effects at the biochemical level, while swimming activity was measured to monitor changes in individual behavior. Although the 21-days exposure to PS-NPs induced a slight modulation of gene involved in oxidative stress response, biochemical analyses showed that D. magna individuals did not experience an oxidative stress condition. Significant changes in energy reserves of individuals exposed for 21 days to both the PS-NPs concentrations were observed, but no alterations of swimming activity occurred. Our results highlighted that the exposure to low concentrations of PS-NPs could pose a limited risk to D. magna individuals and suggested the importance of a multi-level approach to assess the risks of NPs on aquatic organisms.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107264

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Mugilidae fish as bioindicator for monitoring plastic pollution: Comparison between a commercial port and a fishpond (north-western Mediterranean Sea)

Anna Reboa, Laura Cutroneo, Sirio Consani, Irene Geneselli, Mario Petrillo, Giovanni Besio, Marco Capello

Abstract

In the last decade, interest in monitoring and managing plastic pollution has greatly increased. This study compared levels of microplastic contamination in stomachs of Mugilidae fish, suggesting this family as a target for plastic pollution monitoring in areas with different degrees of anthropisation. Two sites characterised by low and high anthropic impact, a fishpond (S’Ena Arrubia, Italy) and a port (Genoa, Italy), respectively, were compared. This study highlighted a stronger microplastic contamination in the port, with a higher percentage of fish showing the presence of microplastics and a larger polymeric variability compared to the fishpond. The microplastic number in fish from the port was higher than in the literature, but it was not significantly different from S’Ena Arrubia in terms of the microplastic percentage found in single individuals. Biomonitoring of microplastic contamination in Mugilidae fish resulted in a valid tool for the investigation of areas differently affected by human activity.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113531

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Intelligent polarization-sensitive holographic flow-cytometer: Towards specificity in classifying natural and microplastic fibers

Marika Valentino, Jaromír Bĕhal, Vittorio Bianco, Simona Itri, Raffaella Mossotti, Giulia Dalla Fontana, Tiziano Battistini, Ettore Stella, Lisa Miccio, Pietro Ferraro

Abstract

Micron size fiber fragments (MFFs), both natural and synthetic, are ubiquitous in our life, especially in textile clothes, being necessary in modern society. In the Earth’s aquatic ecosystem, microplastic fibers account for ~91% of microplastic pollution, thus deserving notable attention as one of the most alarming ecological problems. Accurate automatic identification of MFFs discharges in specific upstream locations is highly demanded. Computational microscopy based on Digital Holography (DH) and machine learning has been demonstrated to identify microplastics in respect to microalgae. However, DH is a non-specific optical tool, meaning it cannot distinguish different types of plastic materials. On the other hand, materials-specific assessments are pivotal to establish the environmental impact of different textile products and production processes. Spectroscopic assays can be employed to identify microplastics for their intrinsic specificity, although they are generally low-throughput and require large concentrations to enable effective measurements. Conversely, MFFs are usually finely dispersed within a water sample. Here we rely on a polarization-resolved holographic flow cytometer in a Lab-on-Chip (LoC) platform for analysing MFFs. We demonstrate that two important objectives can be achieved, i.e. adding material specificity through polarization analysis while operating in a microfluidic stream modality. Through a machine learning numerical pipeline, natural fibers (i.e. cotton and wool) can be clearly separated from synthetic microfilaments, namely PA6, PA6.6, PET, PP. Moreover, the proposed system can accurately distinguish between different polymers under investigation, thus fulfilling the specificity goal. We extract and select different features from amplitude, phase and birefringence maps retrieved from the digital holograms. These are shown to typify MFFs without the need for sample pre-treatment or large concentrations. The simplicity of the DH method for identifying MFFs in LoC-based flow cytometers could promote the use of polarization resolved field-portable analysis systems suitable for studying pollution caused by washing processes of synthetic textiles.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152708

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PET particles raise microbiological concerns for human health while tyre wear microplastic particles potentially affect ecosystem services in waters

Maria Belen Sathicq, Raffaella Sabatino, Andrea Di Cesare, Ester M. Eckert, Diego Fontaneto, Michela Rogora, Gianluca Corno

Abstract

Although abundant and chemically peculiar, tyre wear microplastic particles (TWP) and their impact on the microbial communities in water are largely understudied. We tested in laboratory based semi-continuous cultures the impact of TWP and of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) derived particles (following a gradient of relative abundance) on the pathobiome (the group of potential human pathogenic bacteria) of a freshwater microbial community exposed to contamination by the effluent of a urban wastewater treatment plant, for a period of 28 days. We could define the modulated impact of the two types of microplastic particles: while PET does not favour bacterial growth, it offers a refuge to several potential pathogens of allochthonous origin (from the treated sewage effluent), TWP act as an additional carbon source, promoting the development and the massive growth of a biofilm composed by fast-growing bacterial genera including species potentially harmful and competitive in abating biodiversity in surface waters. Our results demonstrate the different ecological role and impact on freshwater environments of TWP and PET particles, and the need to approach the study of this pollutant not as a whole, but considering the origin and the chemical composition of the different particles.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128397

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Following the fate of microplastic in four abiotic and biotic matrices along the Ticino River (North Italy)

Anna Winkler, Diego Antonioli, Andrea Masseroni, Riccardo Chiarcos, Michele Laus, Paolo Tremolada

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are emerging contaminants in freshwater systems that have already attracted much scientific interest, but little attention has been paid to a multi-matrix analysis of MP occurrences along the length of a river. The present research provides the first record of MP contamination of four abiotic and biotic matrices from a river ecosystem simultaneously analysed. MPs were isolated and identified by micro-Fourier Transform Infrared (μ-FTIR) spectroscopy from samples collected along the Ticino River in North Italy during spring 2019. Abiotic samples were surface water (n = 18, 33 MPs m−3) and sediment (n = 18, 11 MPs kg−1), while biological samples consisted of stomach and gut content of fish (n = 18, wels catfish, Silurus glanis, 0.032 MPs g−1) and macroinvertebrates (n = 90, caddisfly larvae, Hydropsychidae, 0.03 MPs mg−1). MPs were found in biota from all stations; 44% of fish and 61% of macroinvertebrate samples contained MPs. The calculated unit-consistent concentration ratios indicate that both S. glanis and Hydropsychidae larvae had a consistent higher amount of MPs than their respective medium (sediment and water), strongly suggesting an efficient uptake pathway into organisms. MP levels in surface water, sediment, fish and macroinvertebrates were not correlated and did not increase with the river’s length. From our mass balance calculations, the Ticino River transports a consistent amount of MP (yearly load of 3.40 × 1011 ± 1.1 × 1011 MPs) to the Po River. This MP load was almost half than an estimated MP load from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). On that basis and supported by the finding that MP concentration in sediment was mostly opposed to that in surface water but was on average 750-fold higher compared to the water matrix, we surmise that the complex hydrological network of the Ticino River retains a consistent amount of MPs which might build up over time.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153638

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Plastic is in the air: Impact of micro-nanoplastics from airborne pollution on Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L. (Bromeliaceae) as a possible green sensor

Sara Falsini, Ilaria Colzi, David Chelazzi, Marco Dainelli, Silvia Schiff, Alessio Papini, Andrea Coppi, Cristina Gonnelli, Sandra Ristori

Abstract

Due to the increasing evidence of widespread plastic pollution in the air, the impact on plants of airborne particles of polycarbonate (PC), polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), and polyvinylchloride (PVC) was tested by administering pristine and aged airborne micro-nanoplastics (MNPs) to Tillandsia usneoides for two weeks. Here we showed that exposure to pristine MNPs, significantly reduced plant growth with respect to controls. Particularly, PVC almost halved plant development at the end of the treatment, while the other plastics exerted negative effects on growth only at the beginning of the exposure, with final stages comparable to those of controls. Plants exposed to aged MNPs showed significantly decreased growth at early stages with PC, later in the growth with PE, and even later with PET. Aged PVC did not exert a toxic effect on plants. When present, the plastic-mediated reduction in plant growth was coupled with a decrease in photosynthetic activity and alterations in the plant concentration of macro- and micronutrients. The plastic particles were showed to adhere to the plant surface and, preferentially, on the trichome wings. Our results reported, for the first time, evidence of negative effects of airborne plastic pollution on plant health, thus raising concerns for related environmental risks.

 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.129314

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Anthropogenic particles in coypu (Myocastor coypus; Mammalia, Rodentia)’ faeces: first evidence and considerations about their use as track for detecting microplastic pollution

Luca Gallitelli, Corrado Battisti, Loris Pietrelli & Massimiliano Scalici 

Abstract

Anthropogenic plastic litter is widespread in all environments, with particular emphasis on aquatic habitats. Specifically, although freshwater mammals are important as they are at the top of food web, research mainly focus on marine animals, while only few studies have been carried out on freshwater mammals. The main gap is that microplastics (MP) are completely understudied in freshwater mammals. Here, we reported the first evidence of the presence of anthropogenic particles (including MP) in coypu (Myocastor coypus)’ faeces. Coypu is a rodent mammal inhabiting rivers and wetland areas, and we discussed our preliminary data suggesting the use of these tracks as possible future bioindicator of MP pollution in wetlands and freshwaters. We collected 30 coypu’s faeces in “Torre Flavia wetland” nature reserve. Then, in laboratory, faeces were digested in 30 ml hydrogen peroxide (30%) for a week a 20 °C and analysed under stereoscope. All the suspected found MP were isolated in a petri dish, using FT-IR analysis to confirm the polymers. Overall, we recorded 444 natural and anthropogenic particles with most of items being fibres. FT-IR analysis of the 10% of the particles recovered revealed that 72% of them was not MP (mainly, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polyamide). Also, the number of anthropogenic particles is not correlated with the faecal weight. Given that alien species, such as coypu, are widespread species, our results might have a great importance as these species and MP in faecal tracks may be used as undirect proxy of environmental bioavailability of MP pollution.

 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-21032-0

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Micro- and Nanoplastics’ Effects on Protein Folding and Amyloidosis

by Joseph Windheim,Laura Colombo,Nora C. Battajni,Luca Russo,†ORCID,Alfredo Cagnotto ,Luisa Diomede,Paolo Bigini,Elena Vismara,Ferdinando Fiumara,Silvia Gabbrielli,Alfonso Gautieri,Gemma Mazzuoli-Weber,Mario Salmona and Luca Colnaghi

Abstract

A significant portion of the world’s plastic is not properly disposed of and, through various processes, is degraded into microscopic particles termed micro- and nanoplastics. Marine and terrestrial faunae, including humans, inevitably get in contact and may inhale and ingest these microscopic plastics which can deposit throughout the body, potentially altering cellular and molecular functions in the nervous and other systems. For instance, at the cellular level, studies in animal models have shown that plastic particles can cross the blood–brain barrier and interact with neurons, and thus affect cognition. At the molecular level, plastics may specifically influence the folding of proteins, induce the formation of aberrant amyloid proteins, and therefore potentially trigger the development of systemic and local amyloidosis. In this review, we discuss the general issue of plastic micro- and nanoparticle generation, with a focus on their effects on protein folding, misfolding, and their possible clinical implications.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms231810329

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Deeply in Plasticenta: Presence of Microplastics in the Intracellular Compartment of Human Placentas

by Antonio Ragusa,Maria Matta,Loredana Cristiano,Roberto Matassa,Ezio Battaglione,Alessandro Svelato,Caterina De Luca,Sara D’Avino,Alessandra Gulotta,Mauro Ciro Antonio Rongioletti,Piera Catalano,Criselda Santacroce,Valentina Notarstefano ,Oliana Carnevali,Elisabetta Giorgini,Enrico Vizza,Giuseppe Familiari and Stefania Annarita Nottola

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They have been found almost everywhere they have been searched for and recent discoveries have also demonstrated their presence in human placenta, blood, meconium, and breastmilk, but their location and toxicity to humans have not been reported to date. The aim of this study was twofold: 1. To locate MPs within the intra/extracellular compartment in human placenta. 2. To understand whether their presence and location are associated with possible structural changes of cell organelles. Using variable pressure scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, MPs have been localized in ten human placentas. In this study, we demonstrated for the first time the presence and localization in the cellular compartment of fragments compatible with MPs in the human placenta and we hypothesized a possible correlation between their presence and important ultrastructural alterations of some intracytoplasmic organelles (mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum). These alterations have never been reported in normal healthy term pregnancies until today. They could be the result of a prolonged attempt to remove and destroy the plastic particles inside the placental tissue. The presence of virtually indestructible particles in term human placenta could contribute to the activation of pathological traits, such as oxidative stress, apoptosis, and inflammation, characteristic of metabolic disorders underlying obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome and partially accounting for the recent epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811593

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Another one bites the plastics

Luca Gallitelli, Agnese Zauli, Massimiliano Scalici

Abstract

Old-growth forests host a rich diversity of invertebrate assemblages. Among them, saproxylic insects play a fundamental role in the nutrient cycle and ecosystem functioning. In these environments, coevolution between insect and plants have reached a stable equilibrium over millions of years. These delicate ecosystems are threatened mainly by habitat loss and fragmentation, and to date, they have to face the new “plastic threat.” Plastics are widespread in all biomes and ecosystems accumulating throughout the years due to their low degradation rate. Once accumulated, large pieces of plastics can be degraded into smaller particles, the latter representing a great threat to biodiversity and ecosystem health, producing detrimental effects on biota. Since the effects of plastics on terrestrial systems remain largely unexplored, this study aimed at contributing to increasing the knowledge on the interaction between plastics and terrestrial biota. We put our emphasis on the novel and broad topic of plastic degradation by saproxylic beetle larvae, describing how they fragmented macroplastics into microplastics. To investigate whether saproxylic cetonid larvae could degrade expanded polystyrene, we performed an experiment. Thus, we put larvae collected in the field in an expanded polystyrene box. We observed that larvae dug in the thickness of the box fragmenting macroplastics into microplastics and producing a total of 3441 particles. Then, we removed the larvae from the EPS box and isolated them in glass jars filled with natural substrate. The substrate was checked for EPS microplastics previously ingested and now egested by larvae. Additionally, we pointed out that plastics remained attached to cetonid larvae setae, with a mean number of 30.7 ± 12.5 items. Although preliminary, our results highlighted that microplastics attached to saproxylic cetonid larvae might be transported into habitats and transferred along the food web. In conclusion, plastic pollution might affect vulnerable species and ecosystem services representing a risk also for human health.

https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9332

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Microplastics distribution and possible ingestion by fish in lacustrine waters (Lake Bracciano, Italy)

Alessandra Cera, Maria Sighicelli, Armida Sodo, Francesca Lecce, Patrizia Menegoni & Massimiliano Scalici 

Abstract

Understanding the spatial distribution patterns of microplastics (plastics < 5 mm) contributes to the assessment of sources and sinks of pollution thus providing information for the management of biota safety and overall ecosystem functionality. We chose a semi-closed study area, Lake Bracciano (Italy), to assess the environmental variability of contamination, focusing on the water compartment and the exposure of biota, specifically fish, by analysing the ingestion of microplastics. The focus of this study is to evaluate the concentration of microplastics in water (surface and column) across the lake and the ingestion of microplastics by two fish species of economic interest: Atherina boyeri and Coregonus lavaretus, inhabiting demersal and pelagic habitats respectively. Results show a surface contamination of 392,000 ± 417,000 items km−2 and a column one of 0.76 ± 1.00 items m−3. Fragments were the most abundant in surface while fibres in the column. Microplastics were found in C. lavaretus specimens, corresponding to contamination frequency of 5% and concentration of 0.15 items/fish. The main polymer found in water was polyethylene (81%); of minor percentages, there were various other polymers, including polystyrene and acrylic, which were also found in fish. As scientific literature provides few research where water and fish are simultaneously sampled, this investigation wants to contribute filling this knowledge gap by investigating for the first time a volcanic lake.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.088

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Microplastics distribution and possible ingestion by fish in lacustrine waters (Lake Bracciano, Italy)

Alessandra Cera, Maria Sighicelli, Armida Sodo, Francesca Lecce, Patrizia Menegoni & Massimiliano Scalici 

Abstract

Understanding the spatial distribution patterns of microplastics (plastics < 5 mm) contributes to the assessment of sources and sinks of pollution thus providing information for the management of biota safety and overall ecosystem functionality. We chose a semi-closed study area, Lake Bracciano (Italy), to assess the environmental variability of contamination, focusing on the water compartment and the exposure of biota, specifically fish, by analysing the ingestion of microplastics. The focus of this study is to evaluate the concentration of microplastics in water (surface and column) across the lake and the ingestion of microplastics by two fish species of economic interest: Atherina boyeri and Coregonus lavaretus, inhabiting demersal and pelagic habitats respectively. Results show a surface contamination of 392,000 ± 417,000 items km−2 and a column one of 0.76 ± 1.00 items m−3. Fragments were the most abundant in surface while fibres in the column. Microplastics were found in C. lavaretus specimens, corresponding to contamination frequency of 5% and concentration of 0.15 items/fish. The main polymer found in water was polyethylene (81%); of minor percentages, there were various other polymers, including polystyrene and acrylic, which were also found in fish. As scientific literature provides few research where water and fish are simultaneously sampled, this investigation wants to contribute filling this knowledge gap by investigating for the first time a volcanic lake.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.088

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Editorial for the Special Issue “Microplastics in Aquatic Environments: Occurrence, Distribution and Effects”

by Costanza Scopetani,Tania Martellini and Diana Campos

The large production and widespread daily consumption of plastic materials—which began in the last century—together with the often-inadequate collection and recycling systems, have made plastics and, consequently, microplastics (MPs) ubiquitous pollutants [1]. The scientific community is increasingly concerned about microplastic pollution and its possible effects on biota and the environment. Aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, seas, and oceans seem to act as important sinks for plastics and microplastics. Microplastic pollution is so widespread that we might assume no aquatic environment has been left untouched [2,3,4,5].Microplastic pollution as a global concern is confirmed by the research papers collected in this Special Issue; these papers come from 28 Universities and research institutions and are spread across ten countries in three continents. The Special Issue “Microplastics in Aquatic Environments: Occurrence, Distribution and Effects” collected and published 11 novel contributions focusing on microplastics in aquatic environments, their occurrence and distribution, and the effects they might have on the environment and biota. The selected papers comprise three reviews and eight research articles. In their review, Yang et al. (2021) [6] summarized the current literature on MPs in the marine environment, focusing on the sources and fates of MPs and their impacts on marine organisms; moreover, they highlighted the potential of bacteria in plastic degradation processes and the need to further study this subject. Santini et al. (2022) [7] addressed the occurrence of natural and synthetic microfibers in waters, sediments, and biota in the Mediterranean Sea, emphasizing the challenges in distinguishing natural fibers from plastics ones, and the need to further study the environmental impact of both.

https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10070407

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Occurrence and Characterization of Small Microplastics ( <100 μm), Additives, and Plasticizers in Larvae of Simuliidae
by Fabiana Corami,Beatrice Rosso,Valentina Iannilli,Simone Ciadamidaro,Barbara Bravo and Carlo Barbante

Abstract

This study is the first to investigate the ingestion of microplastics (MPs), plasticizers, additives, and particles of micro-litter < 100 μm by larvae of Simuliidae (Diptera) in rivers. Blackflies belong to a small cosmopolitan insect family whose larvae are present alongside river courses, often with a torrential regime, up to their mouths. Specimens of two species of blackfly larvae, Simulium equinum and Simulium ornatum, were collected in two rivers in Central Italy, the Mignone and the Treja. Small microplastics (SMPs, <100 μm), plasticizers, additives, and other micro-litter components, e.g., natural and non-plastic synthetic fibers (APFs) ingested by blackfly larvae were, for the first time, quantified and concurrently identified via MicroFTIR. The pretreatment allowed for simultaneous extraction of the ingested SMPs and APFs. Strong acids or strong oxidizing reagents and the application of temperatures well above the glass transition temperature of polyamide 6 and 6.6 (55–60 °C) were not employed to avoid further denaturation/degradation of polymers and underestimating the quantification. Reagent and procedural blanks did not show any SMPs or APFs. The method’s yield was >90%. Differences in the abundances of the SMPs and APFs ingested by the two species under exam were statistically significant. Additives and plasticizers can be specific to a particular polymer; thus, these compounds can be proxies for the presence of plastic polymers in the environment.

https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10070383

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Spatial distribution of microplastics in volcanic lake water and sediments: Relationships with depth and sediment grain size
Alessandra Cera, Martina Pierdomenico, Armida Sodo, Massimiliano Scalici

Abstract

Microplastics (plastics <5 mm) are globally widespread pollutants of aquatic ecosystems. As microplastics contaminate both water and sediments, research on their spatial distribution in these different environmental matrices has increased. However, fresh waters are poorly studied and even less so are lentic ecosystems. To contribute filling this knowledge gap, this study analyses the distribution of microplastics in the water column and surface sediments of a volcanic lake, namely Lake Bracciano. Furthermore, it analyses in more detail the relationship between the concentration of microplastics in sediments, its grain size and the sampling depth (i.e. nearshore or deep). Water and sediment sampling was carried out in different sectors of the lake (northern, eastern, southern, western) using a plankton net and a van Veen grab sampler, respectively. Two sediment samples were collected at each station in order to analyse the abundance of microplastic and to perform grain size analysis. Results show a mean concentration of 2.4 items m−3 in water and 42 items kg−1 in sediments. The distribution of microplastics is uneven between the different sampling stations, with the northern sector being the most contaminated in both matrices. The chemical composition and shape of microplastics vary between water and sediment. In particular, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride are the most abundant polymers in water and sediments, respectively. Fibres are the main shape of microplastics in water while fragments are more abundant in sediments. In-depth analysis of sediment shows that sediments from deep stations are more contaminated than nearshore samples and have more fragment-shaped microplastics than fibre-shaped ones. Furthermore, there is a significant positive correlation between the concentration of microplastics and the abundance of silt, confirming data emerging from the scientific literature on marine and lotic ecosystems.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154659

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Interplay of plastic pollution with algae and plants: hidden danger or a blessing? 
Erna Karalija, María Carbó, Andrea Coppi, Ilaria Colzi, Marco Dainelli, Mateo Gašparović, Tine Grebenc, Cristina Gonnelli, Vassilis Papadakis, Selma Pilić, Nataša Šibanc, Luis Valledor, Anna Poma, Federico Martinelli

Abstract

In the era of plastic pollution, plants have been discarded as a system that is not affected by micro and nanoplastics, but contrary to beliefs that plants cannot absorb plastic particles, recent research proved otherwise. The presented review gives insight into known aspects of plants’ interplay with plastics and how plants’ ability to absorb plastic particles can be utilized to remove plastics from water and soil systems. Microplastics usually cannot be absorbed by plant root systems due to their size, but some reports indicate they might enter plant tissues through stomata. On the other hand, nanoparticles can enter plant root systems, and reports of their transport via xylem to upper plant parts have been recorded. Bioaccumulation of nanoplastics in upper plant parts is still not confirmed. The prospects of using biosystems for the remediation of soils contaminated with plastics are still unknown. However, algae could be used to degrade plastic particles in water systems through enzyme facilitated degradation processes. Considering the amount of plastic pollution, especially in the oceans, further research is necessary on the utilization of algae in plastic degradation. Special attention should be given to the research concerning utilization of algae with restricted algal growth, ensuring that a different problem is not induced, “sea blooming”, during the degradation of plastics.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.129450

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Classification and distribution of freshwater microplastics along the Italian Po river by hyperspectral imaging
Ludovica Fiore, Silvia Serranti, Cristina Mazziotti, Elena Riccardi, Margherita Benzi & Giuseppe Bonifazi 

Abstract

In this work, freshwater microplastic samples collected from four different stations along the Italian Po river were characterized in terms of abundance, distribution, category, morphological and morphometrical features, and polymer type. The correlation between microplastic category and polymer type was also evaluated. Polymer identification was carried out developing and implementing a new and effective hierarchical classification logic applied to hyperspectral images acquired in the short-wave infrared range (SWIR: 1000–2500 nm). Results showed that concentration of microplastics ranged from 1.89 to 8.22 particles/m3, the most abundant category was fragment, followed by foam, granule, pellet, and filament and the most diffused polymers were expanded polystyrene followed by polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyamide, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride, with some differences in polymer distribution among stations. The application of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) as a rapid and non-destructive method to classify freshwater microplastics for environmental monitoring represents a completely innovative approach in this field.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.11.045

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Mixotrophic flagellate ingestion boosts microplastic accumulation in ascidians
Roberta Pennati, Chiara Castelletti, Marco Parolini, Giorgio Scarì, Silvia Mercurio

Abstract

Microplastics are contaminants of global environmental concern. They can be ingested by a variety of organisms when they enter the food web. Several studies have reported trophic transfer of microplastics from low trophic levels to higher ones. Bioaccumulation has been suggested to occur but few studies have demonstrated it for marine environments. In this article, in controlled laboratory conditions, we exposed filter-feeder ascidian juveniles to microplastics in the presence or in absence of mixotrophic cryptomonad flagellates. Cryptomonads can efficiently ingest microbeads, and their presence significantly increased the concentration of microplastics in the digestive tract of the ascidians. Our results demonstrate the occurrence of microplastic bioaccumulation in the lower levels of the marine trophic chain and suggest that unicellular organisms can be key actors in microplastic trophic transfer at the microscale level.

https://doi.org/10.1002/jez.2596

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Impact of environmental microplastics alone and mixed with benzo[a]pyrene on cellular and molecular responses of Mytilus galloprovincialis
Ilef Romdhani, Giuseppe De Marco, Tiziana Cappello, Samira Ibala, Nesrine Zitouni, Iteb Boughattas, Mohamed Banni

Abstract

The hazard of microplastic (MP) pollution in marine environments is a current concern. However, the effects of environmental microplastics combined with other pollutants are still poorly investigated. Herein, impact of ecologically relevant concentrations of environmental MP alone (50 µg/L) or combined with B[a]P (1 µg/L) was assessed in mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis after a short-term exposure (1 and 3 days) to environmental MP collected from a north-Mediterranean beach. Raman Microspectroscopy (RMS) revealed bioaccumulation in mussel hemolymph of MP, characterized by polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), with abundance of MP sized 1.22–0.45 µm. An increase of B[a]P was detected in mussels after 3-day exposure, particularly when mixed with MP. Both contaminants induced cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on hemocytes as determined by lysosomal membrane stability (LMS), micronuclei frequency (FMN), and DNA fragmentation rate by terminal dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL). About apoptosis/DNA repair processes, P53 and DNA-ligase increased at 1-day exposure in all conditions, whereas after 3 days increase of bax, Cas-3 and P53 and decrease of Bcl-2 and DNA-ligase were revealed, suggesting a shift towards a cell apoptotic event in exposed mussels. Overall, this study provides new insights on the risk of MP for the marine ecosystem, their ability to accumulate xenobiotics and transfer them to marine biota, with potential adverse repercussion on their health status.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.128952

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Acute and chronic ingestion of polyethylene (PE) microplastics has mild effects on honey bee health and cognition
Paride Balzani, Giorgia Galeotti, Sara Scheggi, Alberto Masoni, Giacomo Santini, David Baracchi

Abstract

The massive use of plastic has contributed to huge quantities of hazardous refuse at a global scale and represents one of the most prominent issues of the Anthropocene. Microplastics (MPs) have been detected in almost all environments and pose a potential threat to a variety of plant and animal species. Many studies have reported a variety of effects, from negligible to detrimental, of MPs to aquatic organisms. Conversely, much less is known about their effect on terrestrial biota, and particularly on animal behavior and cognition. We assessed the oral toxicity of polyethylene (PE) MPs at three different concentrations (0.5, 5, and 50 mg L−1), and at different timescales (1 day and 7 days of exposure) and tested for their effects on survival, food intake, sucrose responsiveness, habituation to sucrose and appetitive olfactory learning and memory in the honey bee Apis mellifera. We found that workers were not completely unaffected by acute and prolonged ingestion of this polymer. A significant effect of PE on bee mortality was found for the highest concentration but not for lower ones. PE affected feeding behavior in a concentration-dependent manner, with bees consuming more food than controls when exposed to low concentration PE. Regarding our behavioral and cognitive experiments, the high concentration PE was found to affect only bees’ ability to respond consistently to sucrose but not sucrose sensitivity, habituation to sucrose or learning and memory abilities, even for prolonged exposure to PE. While these last results may look somewhat encouraging, we discussed why caution is warranted before ruling out the possibility that PE particles at environmental concentrations are harmful to honey bees.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119318

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First detection of microplastics in reef-building corals from a Maldivian atoll
Clarissa Raguso, Francesco Saliu, Marina Lasagni, Paolo Galli, Massimiliano Clemenza, Simone Montano

Abstract

The presence of microplastics in the world’s oceans and their effects on marine habitats are highly concerning. As suspension-feeders, corals are very exposed to microplastics, compromising the health of coral reef ecosystems. In this study we surveyed for the first time the presence of microplastics in Maldivian reef-building corals. Aiming to determine the influence of exposure and depth on microplastic distribution, analyses were carried out on 38 individuals belonging to three different species. 58% of the investigated colonies resulted contaminated with particles within the 25–150 μm size range. The maximum concentration was encountered in a Pocillopora verrucosa colony sampled from a shallow inner reef (8.9 particles/g of coral). No significant differences in microplastic concentration were observed between different depths, exposures, sites and species. Overall, this study confirmed microplastic presence in coral reefs of the Maldivian archipelago including foundation species.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113773

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Influence of sediment texture on HDPE microplastics recovery by density separation
Maria Maisto, Maria Antonietta Ranauda, Daniela Zuzolo, Maria Tartaglia, Alessia Postiglione, Antonello Prigioniero, Alessandra Falzarano, Pierpaolo Scarano, Rosaria Sciarrillo, Carmine Guarino

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are an emerging environmental pollutant, threatening marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Because of their properties and their widely varying size (5mm-0.1 μm), it is still difficult to define a valid and efficient method for extracting MPs from solid matrices. Among the several methods proposed, density separation is the most practical and cost-effective one. Progress is still ongoing towards a deeper understanding of the advantages and limitations related to the application of density separation for MPs extraction, the recovery yields and the factors that may influence it. In this context, we introduce the following work, which provides an early-stage insight into how the sediment texture may influence the efficiency of this extraction method, and how parameters, such as sedimentation time and extraction cycles, can be modified to always achieve the best recovery. Our focus has been directed on evaluating the extraction efficiency of HDPE MPs by density separation using NaCl, from three types of sediment: sandy (SS), sandy loam (SLS) and sandy-clay loam (SCLS). We investigated the impact of sedimentation time (1, 6, 12, 24 h) and extraction cycles (3 cycles for each sedimentation time) on MPs recovery. Finally, we determined the minimum amount of MPs (MPs g/g sediment) below which it is not possible to quantify MPs with the method used. The results have shown that the recovery efficiency of MPs from sediment is structure dependent. The highest recoveries are reached after a settling time of 1 and 6 h. Furthermore, for samples with minimum clay content (SS), only one extraction cycle is needed, whereas two extraction cycles are required for SLS and SCLS. The outcomes about the detection limit (LOD) of the method, showed the existence of an interaction MPs-clay/sediment, which allowed us to understand how far this extraction method is suitable in field, thus defining the minimum grade of MPs pollution (MPs g/g sediment) below which this method is no longer capable to extract MPs from contaminated samples.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.115363

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Investigating the effects of microplastic ingestion in Scyliorhinus canicula from the South of Sicily
Mancuso Monique, Panarello Giuseppe, Falco Francesca, Di Paola Davide, Serena Savoca, Capillo Gioele, Romeo Teresa, Presti Giovanni, Gullotta Eleonora, Spanò Nunziacarla, Bono Gioacchino, Salvatore Giuliano, Bottari Teresa

Abstract

Plastic pollution is increasing dramatically worldwide, causing adverse effects on a wide variety of marine organisms at all trophic levels. As predators, sharks play a key role in marine ecosystems and they could especially be threatened by the ingestion of microplastics. This study contributes to expand the existing data on the MPs ingestion by a Mediterranean elasmobranch species, Scyliorhinus canicula, adding new information on the potential impact that this class of contaminants can have on the metabolism of this ecologically relevant species. The present research is aimed: i) to assess if the ingestion of MPs in S. canicula is related to sex, size and depth of catch; ii) to evaluate the effect of MPs on fish body condition; iii) to evaluate if the ingested MPs influence the amino acid and fatty acid composition of eye and liver. A total of 61 specimens of S. canicula were analysed. Forty-nine individuals (80.3 %) had ingested plastic items. Totally, 147 plastic elements were found, mainly belonging to small MPs (49 %), and large MPs (46 %), mostly represented by fibers (84 %). The predominant colour was black. No differences were found between sex and size. A difference in the number of items/specimens related to the deep, highest between 50 and 100 m (4.4), while the lowest between 101 and 500 m (2.1) was found. The condition factor (Kn) value was equal to 1.00 highlighting the wellness of the fish. Arginine (20.1 %), Glutamate (17.4), Phenylalanine (15.7 %), Proline (15.6 %) and were the most abundant amino acids in the eyes of S. canicula. The relative fatty acid composition of the livers was dominated by fatty acids SA (30.2 %) (SFA), CA (29.9 %) (SFA) and OA (22.4 %) (MUFA). This paper reports a study on the relationship between amino acids and fatty acids composition and ingested MPs, highlighting that no significant effects were found.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157875

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Toxicological impact of environmental microplastics and benzo[a]pyrene in the seaworm Hediste diversicolor under environmentally relevant exposure conditions
Siwar Abouda, Omayma Missawi, Tiziana Cappello, Iteb Boughattas, Giuseppe De Marco, Maria Maisano, Mohamed Banni

Abstract

Nowadays, marine ecosystems are under severe threat from the simultaneous presence of multiple stressors, including microplastics (MPs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P). In addition to their presence in various marine compartments, there are increasing concerns on the potential capacity of MPs to sorb, concentrate and transfer these pollutants in the environment. Although their ecotoxicological impacts are currently evident, few works have studied the combined effects of these contaminants. Therefore, the major purpose of this work was to assess the toxicity of environmental relevant concentrations of MPs (<30 μm) and B[a]P, alone and in mixture, in the seaworm Hediste diversicolor by exploring their accumulation and hazardous biological effects for 3 and 7 days. Environmental MPs were able to increase B[a]P in a time-dependent manner. The obtained results showed that individual treatments, as well as co-exposure to contaminants, caused cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in the cœlomic fluid cells, while oxidative stress effects were observed at tissue and gene levels associated with alteration in neurotransmission. Overall, our findings provide additional clues about MPs as organic pollutant vectors in the marine environment, and contribute to a clearer understanding of their toxicological risk to aquatic invertebrates.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119856

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The Culturable Mycobiota of Sediments and Associated Microplastics: From a Harbor to a Marine Protected Area, a Comparative Study
by Matteo Florio Furno,Anna Poli,Davide Ferrero,Federica Tardelli,Chiara Manzini,Matteo Oliva,Carlo Pretti,Tommaso Campani,Silvia Casini,Maria Cristina Fossi,Giovanna Cristina Varese and Valeria Prigione

Abstract

Fungi are an essential component of marine ecosystems, although little is known about their global distribution and underwater diversity, especially in sediments. Microplastics (MPs) are widespread contaminants worldwide and threaten the organisms present in the oceans. In this study, we investigated the fungal abundance and diversity in sediments, as well as the MPs, of three sites with different anthropogenic impacts in the Mediterranean Sea: the harbor of Livorno, the marine protected area “Secche della Meloria”; and an intermediate point, respectively. A total of 1526 isolates were cultured and identified using a polyphasic approach. For many of the fungal species this is the first record in a marine environment. A comparison with the mycobiota associated with the sediments and MPs underlined a “substrate specificity”, highlighting the complexity of MP-associated fungal assemblages, potentially leading to altered microbial activities and hence changes in ecosystem functions. A further driving force that acts on the fungal communities associated with sediments and MPs is sampling sites with different anthropogenic impacts.

https://doi.org/10.3390/jof8090927

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Un-biodegradable and biodegradable plastic sheets modify the soil properties after six months since their applications
G. Santini, S. Acconcia, M. Napoletano, V. Memoli, L. Santorufo, G. Maisto

Abstract

Nowadays, microplastics represent emergent pollutants in terrestrial ecosystems that exert impacts on soil properties, affecting key soil ecological functions. In agroecosystems, plastic mulching is one of the main sources of plastic residues in soils. The present research aimed to evaluate the effects of two types of plastic sheets (un-biodegradable and biodegradable) on soil abiotic (pH, water content, concentrations of organic and total carbon, and total nitrogen) and biotic (respiration, and activities of hydrolase, dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase and urease) properties, and on phytotoxicity (germination index of Sorghum saccharatum L. and Lepidium sativum L.). Results revealed that soil properties were mostly affected by exposure time to plastics rather than the kind (un-biodegradable and biodegradable) of plastics. After six months since mesocosm setting up, the presence of un-biodegradable plastic sheets significantly decreased soil pH, respiration and dehydrogenase activity and increased total and organic carbon concentrations, and toxicity highlighted by S. saccharatum L. Instead, the presence of biodegradable plastic sheets significantly decreased dehydrogenase activity and increased organic carbon concentrations. An overall temporal improvement of the investigated properties in soils covered by biodegradable plastic sheets occurred.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119608

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Microplastic contamination of supraglacial debris differs among glaciers with different anthropic pressures
Arianna Crosta, Beatrice De Felice, Diego Antonioli, Riccardo Chiarcos, Elena Perin, Marco Aldo Ortenzi, Stefano Gazzotti, Roberto Sergio Azzoni, Davide Fugazza, Valentina Gianotti, Michele Laus, Guglielmina Diolaiuti, Francesca Pittino, Andrea Franzetti, Roberto Ambrosini, Marco Parolini

Abstract

Microplastic (MP) contamination is ubiquitous and widespread in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including remote areas. However, information on the presence and distribution of MPs in high-mountain ecosystems, including glaciers, is still limited. The present study aimed at investigating presence, spatial distribution, and patterns of contamination of MPs on three glaciers of the Ortles-Cevedale massif (Central Alps, Northern Italy) with different anthropic pressures, i.e., the Forni, Cedec and Ebenferner-Vedretta Piana glaciers. Samples of supraglacial debris were randomly collected from the glaciers and MPs were isolated. The mean amount (±SE) of MPs measured in debris from Forni, Cedec and Ebenferner-Vedretta Piana glaciers was 0.033 ± 0.007, 0.025 ± 0.009, and 0.265 ± 0.027 MPs g−1 dry weight, respectively. The level and pattern of MP contamination from the Ebenferner-Vedretta Piana glacier were significantly different from those of the other glaciers. No significant spatial gradient in MP distribution along the ablation areas of the glaciers was observed, suggesting that MPs do not accumulate toward the glacier snout. Our results confirmed that local contamination can represent a relevant source of MPs in glacier ecosystems experiencing high anthropic pressure, while long-range transport can be the main source on other glaciers.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158301

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Ecotoxicity of Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) and Polylactic Acid (PLA) Microplastics in Marine Zooplankton
by Michela Di Giannantonio,Chiara Gambardella,Roberta Miroglio,Elisa Costa,Francesca Sbrana,Marco Smerieri,Giovanni Carraro,Roberto Utzeri,Marco Faimali and Francesca Garaventa

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the ecotoxicity of polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and polylactic acid (PLA) microplastics (MPs) in two marine zooplankton: the crustacean Artemia franciscana and the cnidarian Aurelia sp. (common jellyfish). To achieve this goal, (i) MP uptake, (ii) immobility, and (iii) behavior (swimming speed, pulsation mode) of crustacean larval stages and jellyfish ephyrae exposed to MPs concentrations (1, 10, 100 mg/L) were assessed for 24 h. Using traditional and novel techniques, i.e., epifluorescence microscopy and 3D holotomography (HT), PVDF and PLA MPs were found in the digestive systems of the crustaceans and in the gelatinous tissue of jellyfish. Immobility was not affected in either organism, while a significant behavioral alteration in terms of pulsation mode was found in jellyfish after exposure to both PVDF and PLA MPs. Moreover, PLA MPs exposure in jellyfish induced a toxic effect (EC50: 77.43 mg/L) on the behavioral response. This study provides new insights into PLA and PVDF toxicity with the potential for a large impact on the marine ecosystem, since jellyfish play a key role in the marine food chain. However, further investigations incorporating additional species belonging to other trophic levels are paramount to better understand and clarify the impact of such polymers at micro scale in the marine environment. These findings suggest that although PVDF and PLA have been recently proposed as innovative and, in the case of PLA, biodegradable polymers, their effects on marine biota should not be underestimated.

https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10080479

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Polyethylene microplastics reduce filtration and respiration rates in the Mediterranean sponge Petrosia ficiformis
Lucia De Marchi, Monia Renzi, Serena Anselmi, Carlo Pretti, Elisa Guazzelli, Elisa Martinelli, Alessia Cuccaro, Matteo Oliva, Michele Magri, Fabio Bulleri

Abstract

Microplastic (MP) pollution represents a distinctive mark of the Anthropocene. Despite the increasing efforts to determine the ecological impacts of MP on marine biodiversity, our understanding of their toxicological effects on invertebrate species is still limited. Despite their key functional roles, sponges (Phylum Porifera) are particularly understudied in MP research. These filter-feeders extract and retain particles from the water column, across a broad size range. In this study, we carried out a laboratory experiment to assess the uptake of MPs (polyethylene, PE) by the Mediterranean sponge Petrosia ficiformis, how MPs influence key biological process after different times of exposure (24h and 72h) and whether they can be subsequently eliminated. MP uptake increased with time of exposure, with 30.6% of the inoculated MP particles found in sponge samples after 72h. MPs impaired filtration and respiration rates and these effects were still evident 72h after sponges had been transferred in uncontaminated water. Our study shows that time of exposure represents a key factor in determining MP toxicity in sponges. In addition, our results suggest that sponges are able to incorporate foreign particles and may thus be a potential bioindicator for MP pollutants.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.113094

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Rigid and film bioplastics degradation under suboptimal composting conditions: A kinetic study
Federica Ruggero, Sara Belardi, and Riccardo Gori

Abstract

The present research investigates the degradation rate of bioplastics under various composting conditions, including suboptimal ones. Lab-scale tests were carried out setting three variables: temperature (37°C–58°C), humidity (30%–60%) and duration of the thermophilic and the maturation phases (15–60 days). The composting tests were carried out following modified guideline ISO 20200:2015 and lasted for 60 days. Bioplastics in the synthetic waste matrix consisted of Mater-Bi® film biobags and PLA rigid teaspoons. A kinetic study was performed, resulting in faster degradation rates for film bioplastics (first-order kinetics with k = 0.0850–0.1663 d−1) than for rigid (0.0018–0.0136 d−1). Moreover, film bioplastics reached a complete degradation within the 60 days of the test. Concerning the rigid products, 90% degradation would be achieved in 2–3 years for mesophilic conditions. Finally, in the undersieve of 0.5 mm some microplastics were identified with the ImageJ software, mainly relatable to rigid (PLA) bioplastics. Overall, the results disclosed that the combination of mesophilic temperatures and absence of moistening slowed down both the degradation and the disintegration process of bioplastics.

https://doi.org/10.1177/0734242X21106373

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The hidden cost of following currents: Microplastic ingestion in a planktivorous seabird
Federico De Pascalis, Beatrice De Felice, Marco Parolini, Danilo Pisu, David Pala, Diego Antonioli, Elena Perin, Valentina Gianotti, Luca Ilahiane, Giulia Masoero, Lorenzo Serra, Diego Rubolini, Jacopo G. Cecere

Abstract

Microplastics are increasingly pervasive pollutants, particularly abundant in the neuston where they drift with currents. We assessed dietary microplastic ingestion in the Mediterranean storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis), a small pelagic seabird that forages on plankton and inhabit the Mediterranean sea, one of the most polluted seas worldwide. We collected spontaneous regurgitates from 30 chick-rearing individuals and used GPS tracking data from 7 additional individuals to locate foraging areas. Birds foraged in pelagic areas characterized by water stirring and mixing, and regurgitates from 14 individuals (i.e. 45 %) contained microplastics. Fibers were the dominant shape (56 %), with polyester, polyethylene and nylon being the most frequent polymers. Our findings highlight the potential sensitivity of this species of conservation interest to plastic pollution and suggest that storm petrel regurgitates can be a valuable matrix to investigate microplastic ingestion in planktonic foragers, providing a characterization of spatio-temporal patterns of microplastic exposure in pelagic environments.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114030

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Environmental microplastics (EMPs) exposure alter the differentiation potential of mesenchymal stromal cells
Hana Najahi, Nicola Alessio, Tiziana Squillaro, Gea Oliveri Conti, Margherita Ferrante, Giovanni Di Bernardo, Umberto Galderisi, Imed Messaoudi, Sergio Minucci, Mohamed Banni

Abstract

Humans are exposed to environmental microplastic (MPs) that can be frequent in surrounding environment. The mesenchymal stromal cells are a heterogeneous population, which contain fibroblasts and stromal cells, progenitor cells and stem cells. They are part of the stromal component of most tissue and organs in our organisms. Any injury to their functions may impair tissue renewal and homeostasis. We evaluated the effects of different size MPs that could be present in water bottles on human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) and adipose mesenchymal stromal cells (AMSCs). MPs of polyethylene terephthalate (MPs-PET) (<1 μm and <2.6 μm) were tested in this study. PET treatments induced a reduction in proliferating cells (around 30%) associated either with the onset of senescence or increase in apoptosis. The AMSCs and BMMSCs exposed to PET showed an alteration of differentiation potential. AMSCs remained in an early stage of adipocyte differentiation as shown by high levels of mRNA for Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARG) (7.51 vs 1.00) and reduction in Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) mRNA levels (0.5 vs 1.0). A loss of differentiation capacity was also observed for the osteocyte phenotype in BMMSCs. In particular, we observed a reduction in Bone Gamma-Carboxy glutamate Protein (BGLAP) (0.4 for PET1 and 0.6 for PET2.6 vs 0.1 CTRL) and reduction in Osteopontin (SPP1) (0.3 for PET 1 and 0.64 for PET 2.6 vs 0.1 CTRL). 

This pioneering mesenchymal cell response study demonstrated that environmental microplastic could be bioavailable for cell uptake and may further lead to irreversible diseases.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2022.114088

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Toxic impact of polystyrene microplastic particles in freshwater organisms
Roberta Nugnes, Margherita Lavorgna, Elena Orlo, Chiara Russo, Marina Isidori

Abstract

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is leading to an increase of the global production of plastics since the use of personal protective equipment (PPEs, i.e. gloves, gowns, masks, packaging items), has become mandatory to prevent the spread of the virus. Plastic breaks down into micro/nano particles due to physical or chemical or biological actions into environment. Due to small dimensions, ubiquitous and persistent nature, the plastic particles represent a significant threat to ecosystems and can entry into food chains. Among the plastic polymers used for PPEs, polystyrene is less studied regarding its eco-geno-toxicity. This study aims to investigate acute, chronic and subchronic effects of the microplastic polystyrene beads (PS-MP, size 1.0 μm) on three freshwater species, the alga Raphidocelis subcapitata, the rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus, the crustacean Ceriodaphnia dubia and the benthic ostracod Heterocypris incongruens. Furthermore, the potential genotoxicity and the ROS production due to the PS-MP were also determined in C. dubia.

Results revealed that the acute effects occurred at concentrations of PS-MP in the order of dozens of mg/L in B. calyciflorus and C. dubia and hundreds of mg/L in H. incongruens.

Regarding long-term toxicity, increasing chronic effects with EC50s in the order of units (C. dubia), hundreds (B. calyciflorus) and thousands (R. subcapitata) of μg/L were observed. Both for acute and chronic/sub chronic toxicity, daphnids were more sensitive to polystyrene than ostracods. Moreover, when C. dubia neonates were exposed to the PS-MP, alterations in genetic material as well as the production of ROS occurred, starting from concentrations in the order of units of μg/L, probably due to inflammatory responses. At last, the risk quotient (RQ) as a measure of risk posed by PS-MPs in freshwater environment, was calculated obtaining a value of 7.2, higher than the threshold value of 1.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134373

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Microplastics accumulation in gastrointestinal tracts of Mullus barbatus and Merluccius merluccius is associated with increased cytokine production and signaling
Paolo Cocci, Serena Gabrielli, Genny Pastore, Marco Minicucci, Gilberto Mosconi, Francesco Alessandro Palermo

Abstract

There is clear evidence that different marine species can be impacted by microplastic (MP) ingestion accumulating such MPs mainly in the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is still limited knowledge on the consequences of MPs’ accumulation in the gut. The present study aims to assess MPs and their potential immunotoxic effects in the digestive tract of two species showing different ecological traits: the red mullet (Mullus barbatus) and the European hake (Merluccius merluccius). Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR-ATR), micro-Raman and electron scanning microscope (SEM) were used to accurately identify the main plastic polymers detected in gut contents. In addition, we investigated the association between MP uptake and intestinal inflammation by evaluating expression and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. MP abundance ranged from 1 to 20 items/individual in red mullet and from 2 to 15 items/individual in European hake. The majority of ingested MPs were fibers, while the dominant colors were black and blue in both species. Chemical characterization indicated polyethylene and polypropylene as the most common polymer types. Moreover, it was observed that MP abundance was highly positive correlated to cytokines (i.e. interleukin-1β, 10, and interferon) and antioxidant enzyme (i.e. catalase and superoxide dismutase) transcript levels suggesting ROS generation and an infiltration of immune cells in the gut. Our findings provide evidence that the induction of cytokine-dependent signaling pathways is one aspect of the complex mechanism by which MPs affect the gut system in fish.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.135813

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Leached degradation products from beached microplastics: A potential threat to coastal dune plants
Virginia Menicagli, Elena Balestri, Greta Biale, Andrea Corti, Jacopo La Nasa, Francesca Modugno, Valter Castelvetro, Claudio Lardicci 

Abstract

Plants play a fundamental role in maintaining coastal dunes but also accumulate littered microplastics (MPs). Migration tests suggest that naturally weathered MPs can leach out a broader range of potentially phytotoxic chemicals than virgin MPs. Thus, assessing MPs effects on plants using beached-collected particles rather than virgin ones is critically important. Here, the effects on plants of leachates from two pools of beach-collected and virgin MPs, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), and their mixture, were explored combining toxicity tests and chemical analyses. Phytotoxicity of MP leachates at different dilutions was evaluated under standard laboratory conditions using test species and under environmentally realistic conditions using the dune species Thinopyrum junceum. Leachates from beached PP and HDPE adversely affected all species, and the extent of these effects varied according to polymer type, concentration, and species. Virgin MPs had weaker effects than beached ones. Several potentially phytotoxic oxidized compounds were detected in water by GC/MS analysis, and their amount estimated. Results indicate that the molecular species leaching from beached MPs – at ppm concentration levels for the individual chemical species – can inhibit plant growth, and the effects of leachates from mixtures of degraded MPs can differ from those from individual polymers, highlighting the need for further investigation of MPs consequences for coastal ecosystems.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.135287

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Plant species-specific impact of polyethylene microspheres on seedling growth and the metabolome
Oussama Bouaicha, Raphael Tiziani, Mauro Maver, Luigi Lucini, Begoña Miras-Moreno, Leilei Zhang, Marco Trevisan, Stefano Cesco, Luigimaria Borruso, Tanja Mimmo

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous contaminants. In recent decades, the hazardous impacts of MPs on the environment have raised significant concern. However, little attention has been focused on the interaction between MPs and plants in terrestrial agroecosystems. This study aims to investigate the effects of polyethylene microspheres (PE-MS) on the germination, morphology, and metabolism of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Specifically, seeds were soaked in PE-MS solutions at three concentrations (10, 100, and 1000 mg L−1), while control seeds were treated with distilled water. After five days, the morphological parameters of barley (i.e., shoot and root biomass, length, and average diameter) were significantly affected by PE-MS treatment, even at the lowest concentration, without a dose dependency. On the other hand, the effect of PE-MS on the morphological parameters of cucumber and tomato was evident only at the highest concentration (1000 mg L−1). PE-MS also induced metabolomic reprogramming of shoots and roots in all three plant species. There was a downregulation of fatty acids and secondary metabolites (except in tomato shoots). In addition, the response of amino acids and hormones was highly heterogeneous among species and plant parts. In particular, the response of metabolites changed within species among different plant parts.

In conclusion, we found a strong influence of MS-PE on the metabolic profile of the three plant species and a positive priming of seedling growth, especially in barley, where all the morphological parameters considered were significantly improved. Further investigations are needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying MP-plant interactions, especially in the long term.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156678

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Microplastics in seawater and marine organisms: Site-specific variations over two-year study in Giglio Island (North Tyrrhenian Sea)
Lucia Pittura, Francesca Garaventa, Elisa Costa, Roberta Minetti, Alessandro Nardi, Lucia Ventura, Silvia Morgana, Marco Capello, Giuseppe Ungherese, Francesco Regoli, Stefania Gorbi

Abstract

Geographical and temporal differences of microplastic occurrence were documented in water and fish collected in 2017 and 2019 from the Giglio Island (North Tyrrhenian Sea) close to the area where the Costa Concordia sank in January 2012. Results on water samples showed a site-dependent difference, suggesting the role of surface current dynamics in the microplastic local distribution, while tested Neuston nets (200 μm and 330 μm mesh size) did not influence microplastic retention efficiency. Fish exhibited in 2019 a higher frequency of specimens positive to microplastic ingestion with respect to 2017, with an occurrence higher than those typically observed in other Mediterranean areas. Both in water and fish, fragments were the dominating shape, polypropylene and polyethylene were the prevalent polymers, without particular difference between sites and years. This study highlights the importance of applying microplastic investigation in biotic and abiotic matrices for an effective monitoring of this pollution in the marine environment.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113916

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Detection and formation mechanisms of secondary nanoplastic released from drinking water bottlesDetection and formation mechanisms of secondary nanoplastic released from drinking water bottles
Anna Winkler, Francesco Fumagalli, Claudia Cella, Douglas Gilliland, Paolo Tremolada, Andrea Valsesia

Abstract

Since nanoplastics are currently considered potentially hazardous to the environment and human health, reliability of studies on nanoplastic exposure becomes crucial. However, analytical challenges limit our understanding of their formation and detection, thus hampering their biological interactions assessment. Here we provide a combined approach to quantitatively and qualitatively detect the release of nanoplastics in water matrix and, in particular, to measure direct exposure of consumers by simulated use of drinking water plastic bottles. We measured that the polyethylene sealing of the bottles released particles with a size distribution ranging from few hundreds nanometers up to about one micron and estimated a mass release in the order of few tenths of nanograms per opening/closing cycle. We observe that mechanical stress alters the physical-chemical characteristics of the generated secondary nanoplastics and degrades the material properties compared to the original bulk source, thus complicating their spectroscopic chemical identification. Our findings demonstrate that understanding material degradation processes is therefore crucial for identifying and quantifying nanoplastics in real samples. Moreover, methods allowing quantitative studies on the release of nanoplastic as a source of exposure are considered essential for proper assessment of their potential health hazards and to promote improvements in consumer products plastic packaging design.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2022.118848

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Sparkling plastic: Effects of exposure to glitter on the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis
Francesca Provenza, Serena Anselmi, Antonietta Specchiulli, Manuela Piccardo, Damià Barceló, Marino Prearo, Paolo Pastorino, Monia Renzi

Abstract

Microbeads and fragments have been widely studied, while glitter remains neglected by the literature although found in a variety product (e.g., body paints, nail polish, cosmetics, craft products). The main aim of this study was to assess the effects of different types and concentrations of glitter particles on Mytilus galloprovincialis after 7 days of exposure. The experiment was divided into a preliminary test and a confirmatory test. Our findings support the hypothesis for a link between concentration and type of glitter particles, percentage of recovery and oxidative stress in M. galloprovincialis. There was a significant correlation between particle length and percentage of particles recovered in water, suggesting that the digestive tract of M. galloprovincialis retains smaller particles more. In addition, we noted an increase in antioxidant defense induced by smaller particles. Moreover, certain types of glitter crumbled and shortened in length, resulting in higher levels of oxidative stress biomarkers. Finally, the star-shaped glitter particles had a different effect on oxidative stress biomarkers. Further studies are needed to clarify the toxic effects of glitter on aquatic organisms and to quantify its proportion to other microplastics in the environment.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.etap.2022.103994

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Early evidence of the impacts of microplastic and nanoplastic pollution on the growth and physiology of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa
Virginia Menicagli, Monica Ruffini Castiglione, Elena Balestri, Lucia Giorgetti, Stefania Bottega, Carlo Sorce, Carmelina Spanò, Claudio Lardicci

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are ubiquitous in natural habitats and the risks their presence poses to marine environments and organisms are of increasing concern. There is evidence that seagrass meadows are particularly prone to accumulate plastic debris, including polystyrene particles, but the impacts of this pollutant on seagrass performance are currently unknown. This is a relevant knowledge gap as seagrasses provide multiple ecosystem services and are declining globally due to anthropogenic impact and climate-change-related stressors.

Here, we explored the potential effects of a 12 day-exposure of seagrasses to one concentration (68 μg/L) of polystyrene MPs and NPs on the growth, oxidative status, and photosynthetic efficiency of plants using the foundation species Cymodocea nodosa as a model. Among plant organs, adventitious roots were particularly affected by MPs and NPs showing complete degeneration. The number of leaves per shoot was lower in MPs- and NPs-treated plants compared to control plants, and leaf loss exceeded new leaf production in MPs-treated plants. MPs also reduced photochemical efficiency and increased pigment content compared to control plants. Shoots of NPs-treated plants showed a greater oxidative damage and phenol content than those of control plants and MPs-treated plants. Biochemical data about oxidative stress markers were consistent with histochemical results. The effects of MPs on C. nodosa could be related to their adhesion to plant surface while those of NPs to entering tissues.

Our study provides the first experimental evidence of the potential harmful effects of MPs/NPs on seagrass development. It also suggests that the exposure of seagrasses to MPs/NPs in natural environments could have negative consequences on the functioning of seagrass ecosystems. This stresses the importance of implementing cleaning programs to remove all plastics already present in marine habitats as well as of undertaking specific actions to prevent the introduction of these pollutants within seagrass meadows.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2022.118848

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Polystyrene micro and nano-particles induce metabolic rewiring in normal human colon cells: A risk factor for human health
Marcella Bonanomi, Noemi Salmistraro, Danilo Porro, Annalisa Pinsino, Anna Maria Colangelo, Daniela Gaglio

Abstract

Polystyrene is a thermoplastic polymer widely used in commercial products. Like all plastics, polystyrene can be degraded into microplastic and nanoplastic particles and ingested via food chain contamination. Although the ecological impact due to plastic contamination is well known, there are no studies indicating a carcinogenic potential of polystyrene microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs).

Here, we evaluated the effects of the MPs and NPs on normal human intestinal CCD-18Co cells. Our results show that internalization of NPs and MPs induces metabolic changes under both acute and chronic exposure by inducing oxidative stress, increasing glycolysis via lactate to sustain energy metabolism and glutamine metabolism to sustain anabolic processes. We also show that this decoupling of nutrients mirrors the effect of the potent carcinogenic agent azoxymethane and HCT15 colon cancer cells, carrying out the typical strategy of cancer cells to optimize nutrients utilization and allowing metabolic adaptation to environmental stress conditions. Taken together our data provide new evidence that chronic NPs and MPs exposure could act as cancer risk factor for human health.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134947

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Image processing tools in the study of environmental contamination by microplastics: reliability and perspectives
Tommaso Valente, Daniele Ventura, Marco Matiddi, Alice Sbrana, Cecilia Silvestri, Raffaella Piermarini, Carlo Jacomini & Maria Letizia Costantini 

Abstract

Microplastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental concerns for contemporary times and the future. In the last years, the number of publications about microplastic contamination has increased rapidly and the list is daily updated. However, the lack of standard analytical approaches might generate data inconsistencies, reducing the comparability among different studies. The present study investigates the potential of two image processing tools (namely the shapeR package for R and ImageJ 1.52v) in providing an accurate characterization of the shape of microplastics using a restricted set of shape descriptors. To ascertain that the selected tools can measure small shape differences, we perform an experiment to verify the detection of pre-post variations in the shape of different microplastic types (i.e., nylon [NY], polyethylene [PE], polyethylene terephthalate [PET], polypropylene [PP], polystyrene [PS], and polyvinylchloride [PVC]) treated with mildly corrosive chemicals (i.e., 10% KOH at 60 °C, 30% H2O2 at 50 °C, and 15% H2O2 + 5% HNO3 at 40 °C; incubation time ≈ 12 h). Analysis of surface area variations returns results about the vulnerability of plastic polymers to digestive solutions that are aligned with most of the acquired knowledge. The largest decrease in surface area occurs for KOH-treated PET particles, while NY results in the most susceptible polymer to the 30% H2O2 treatment, followed by PVC and PS. PE and PP are the most resistant polymers to all the used treatments. The adopted methods to characterize microplastics seem reliable tools for detecting small differences in the shape and size of these particles. Then, the analytic perspectives that can be developed using such widely accessible and low-cost equipment are discussed.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-22128-3

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Physicochemical and biological ageing processes of (micro)plastics in the environment: a multi-tiered study on polyethylene
Gilberto Binda, Giorgio Zanetti, Arianna Bellasi, Davide Spanu, Ginevra Boldrocchi, Roberta Bettinetti, Andrea Pozzi & Luca Nizzetto 

Abstract

Pollution by plastic and microplastic impacts the environment globally. Knowledge on the ageing mechanisms of plastics in natural settings is needed to understand their environmental fate and their reactivity in the ecosystems. Accordingly, the study of ageing processes is gaining focus in the context of the environmental sciences. However, laboratory-based experimental research has typically assessed individual ageing processes, limiting environmental applicability. In this study, we propose a multi-tiered approach to study the environmental ageing of polyethylene plastic fragments focusing on the combined assessment of physical and biological processes in sequence. The ageing protocol included ultraviolet irradiation in air and in a range of water solutions, followed by a biofouling test. Changes in surface characteristics were assessed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and water contact angle. UV radiation both in air and water caused a significant increase in the density of oxidized groups (i.e., hydroxyl and carbonyl) on the plastic surface, whereby water solution chemistry influenced the process both by modulating surface oxidation and morphology. Biofouling, too, was a strong determinant of surface alterations, regardless of the prior irradiation treatments. All biofouled samples present (i) specific infrared bands of new surface functional groups (e.g., amides and polysaccharides), (ii) a further increase in hydroxyl and carbonyl groups, (iii) the diffuse presence of algal biofilm on the plastic surface, and (iv) a significant decrease in surface hydrophobicity. This suggests that biological-driven alterations are not affected by the level of physicochemical ageing and may represent, in real settings, the main driver of alteration of both weathered and pristine plastics. This work highlights the potentially pivotal role of biofouling as the main process of plastic ageing, providing useful technical insights for future experimental works. These results also confirm that a multi-tiered laboratory approach permits a realistic simulation of plastic environmental ageing in controlled conditions.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-22599-4

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Characterization of microparticles derived from waste plastics and their bio-interaction with human lung A549 cells
Rossella Bengalli, Alessandra Zerboni, Patrizia Bonfanti, Melissa Saibene, Dora Mehn, Claudia Cella, Jessica Ponti, Rita La Spina, Paride Mantecca

Abstract

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 that 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 (48 h), 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.

https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.4372

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One is not enough: Monitoring microplastic ingestion by fish needs a multispecies approach
Tommaso Valente, Tania Pelamatti, Carlo Giacomo Avio, Andrea Camedda, Maria Letizia Costantini, Giuseppe Andrea de Lucia, Carlo Jacomini, Raffaella Piermarini, Francesco Regoli, Alice Sbrana, Daniele Ventura, Cecilia Silvestri, Marco Matiddi

Abstract

The development of monitoring programs based on bioindicators is crucial for assessing the impact of microplastic ingestion on marine organisms. This study presents results from an Italian pilot action aimed at investigating the suitability of a monitoring strategy based on a multispecies approach. The benthic-feeder Mullus barbatus, the demersal species Merluccius merluccius, and the pelagic-feeder species of the genus Scomber were used to assess the environmental contamination by microplastics in three different marine areas, namely Ancona (Adriatic Sea), Anzio (Tyrrhenian Sea), and Oristano (Western Sardinia). Microplastic ingestion frequencies were higher in samples from Anzio (26.7 %) and Ancona (25.0 %) than Oristano (14.4 %), suggesting a relationship between microplastic bioavailability and the proximity to urban settlements and river flows. Furthermore, microplastic ingestion was affected by the feeding habits of the examined species. The detected differences reinforce the hypothesis that a multispecies approach is needed to evaluate microplastic ingestion by marine animals.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.114133

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Plastisphere in lake waters: Microbial diversity, biofilm structure, and potential implications for freshwater ecosystems
Francesca Di Pippo, Simona Crognale, Caterina Levantesi, Luca Vitanza, Maria Sighicelli, Loris Pietrelli, Stefania Di Vito, Stefano Amalfitano, Simona Rossetti

Abstract

Once dispersed in water, microplastic (MP) particles are rapidly colonised by aquatic microbes, which can adhere and grow onto solid surfaces in the form of biofilms. This study provides new insights on microbial diversity and biofilm structure of plastisphere in lake waters. By combining Fourier Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM), Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) and high-throughput DNA sequencing, we investigated the microbial colonization patterns on floating MPs and, for the first time, the occurrence of eukaryotic core members and their possible relations with biofilm-forming bacterial taxa within the plastisphere of four different lakes. Through PCR-based methods (qPCR, LAMP-PCR), we also evaluated the role of lake plastisphere as long-term dispersal vectors of potentially harmful organisms (including pathogens) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in freshwater ecosystems. Consistent variation patterns of the microbial community composition occurred between water and among the plastisphere samples of the different lakes. The eukaryotic core microbiome was mainly composed by typical freshwater biofilm colonizers, such as diatoms (Pennales, Bacillariophyceaea) and green algae (Chlorophyceae), which interact with eukaryotic and prokaryotic microbes of different trophic levels. Results also showed that MPs are suitable vectors of biofilm-forming opportunistic pathogens and a hotspot for horizontal gene transfer, likely facilitating antibiotic resistance spread in the environments.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119876

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Microplastics in Fish and Fishery Products and Risks for Human Health: A Review
by Leonardo Alberghini,Alessandro Truant,Serena Santonicola,Giampaolo Colavita and Valerio Giaccone

Abstract

In recent years, plastic waste has become a universally significant environmental problem. Ingestion of food and water contaminated with microplastics is the main route of human exposure. Fishery products are an important source of microplastics in the human diet. Once ingested, microplastics reach the gastrointestinal tract and can be absorbed causing oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, and translocation to other tissues. Furthermore, microplastics can release chemical substances (organic and inorganic) present in their matrix or previously absorbed from the environment and act as carriers of microorganisms. Additives present in microplastics such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), bisphenol A (BPA), nonylphenol (NP), octylphenol (OP), and potentially toxic elements can be harmful for humans. However, to date, the data we have are not sufficient to perform a reliable assessment of the risks to human health. Further studies on the toxicokinetics and toxicity of microplastics in humans are needed.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010789

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Is Wild Marine Biota Affected by Microplastics?
by Nunziatina Porcino,Teresa Bottari and Monique Mancuso

Abstract

The present review provides detailed information on the adverse effects of MPs on wild marine organisms, including tissue damage, fish condition, oxidative stress, immune toxicity, and genotoxicity. A bibliometric analysis was carried out on CiteSpace (version 6.1.R3) (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA) to verify how many papers studied the effects on wild marine species. The results showed a total of 395 articles, but only 22 really presented data on the effects or impacts on marine biota, and of these, only 12 articles highlighted negative effects. This review shows that the observed effects in wild organisms were less severe and milder than those found in the experimental conditions. The knowledge of negative effects caused by direct ingestion of microplastics in wild animals is still limited; more efforts are necessary to fully understand the role of MPs and the adverse effects on wild marine organisms, the ecosystem, and human health.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010147

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Microplastics in aquatic systems, a comprehensive review: origination, accumulation, impact and removal technologies
Antonio Tursi, Mariafrancesca Baratta, Thomas Easton, Efthalia Chatzisymeon, Francesco Chidichimo, Michele De Biasec and Giovanni De Filpo

Abstract

Although the discovery of plastic in the last century has brought enormous benefits to daily activities, it must be said that its use produces countless environmental problems that are difficult to solve. The indiscriminate use and the increase in industrial production of cleaning, cosmetic, packaging, fertilizer, automotive, construction and pharmaceutical products have introduced tons of plastics and microplastics into the environment. The latter are of greatest concern due to their size and their omnipresence in the various environmental sectors. Today, they represent a contaminant of increasing ecotoxicological interest especially in aquatic environments due to their high stability and diffusion. In this regard, this critical review aims to describe the different sources of microplastics, emphasizing their effects in aquatic ecosystems and the danger to the health of living beings, while examining, at the same time, those few modelling studies conducted to estimate the future impact of plastic towards the marine ecosystem. Furthermore, this review summarizes the latest scientific advances related to removal techniques, evaluating their advantages and disadvantages. The final purpose is to highlight the great environmental problem that we are going to face in the coming decades, and the need to develop appropriate strategies to invert the current scenario as well as better performing removal techniques to minimize the environmental impacts of microplastics.

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Effects of Nano and Microplastics on the Inflammatory Process: In Vitro and In Vivo Studies Systematic Review
Eloise Pulvirenti, Margherita Ferrante, Nunziata Barbera, Claudia Favara, Erica Aquilia, Marco Palella1, Antonio Cristaldi, Gea Oliveri Conti, Maria Fiore

Abstract

Background: Microplastics (MPs) and Nanoplastics (NPs) are plastic fragments that spread in the environment and accumulate in the human body, so they have been becoming a worldwide environmental concern because of their potential human health effects. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the prospective impact of MPs and NPs on the inflammatory process. Methods: Electronic article search was performed on PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science international databases from 1 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2021. Screenings of titles, abstracts and full texts were performed according to the Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic Review and Meta-analyses (PRISMA). The methodological quality of the studies was checked by the Toxicological data Reliability Assessment Tool. Results: Electronic article search identified 125 records, from which 6 in vitro, 11 in vivo and 2 both in vivo and in vitro studies were included. Both in vivo and in vitro studies have showed an increase ofdifferent inflammatory outcomes (Interleukines, Tumor necrosis factor, Chemokines, Interferones, Transcription factors, Growth factors, Oxydoreductase, Proteins and others), thus it seems to confirm the association withthe exposure to microplastics of different types, sizes, exposure times and exposed species. Conclusions: This systematic review seems to support the relationship between the exposure to MPs and the inflammatory processboth in vivo and in vitro. Greater caution is needed about the role of NPs because ofa very small number of studies. Additional high-quality studies are warranted to confirm these results, especially the research should be focused on NPs being lacking literature.

https://doi.org/10.31083/j.fbl2710287

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Effects of Nano and Microplastics on the Inflammatory Process: In Vitro and In Vivo Studies Systematic Review
Eloise Pulvirenti, Margherita Ferrante, Nunziata Barbera, Claudia Favara, Erica Aquilia, Marco Palella1, Antonio Cristaldi, Gea Oliveri Conti, Maria Fiore

Abstract

Background: Microplastics (MPs) and Nanoplastics (NPs) are plastic fragments that spread in the environment and accumulate in the human body, so they have been becoming a worldwide environmental concern because of their potential human health effects. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the prospective impact of MPs and NPs on the inflammatory process. Methods: Electronic article search was performed on PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science international databases from 1 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2021. Screenings of titles, abstracts and full texts were performed according to the Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic Review and Meta-analyses (PRISMA). The methodological quality of the studies was checked by the Toxicological data Reliability Assessment Tool. Results: Electronic article search identified 125 records, from which 6 in vitro, 11 in vivo and 2 both in vivo and in vitro studies were included. Both in vivo and in vitro studies have showed an increase ofdifferent inflammatory outcomes (Interleukines, Tumor necrosis factor, Chemokines, Interferones, Transcription factors, Growth factors, Oxydoreductase, Proteins and others), thus it seems to confirm the association withthe exposure to microplastics of different types, sizes, exposure times and exposed species. Conclusions: This systematic review seems to support the relationship between the exposure to MPs and the inflammatory processboth in vivo and in vitro. Greater caution is needed about the role of NPs because ofa very small number of studies. Additional high-quality studies are warranted to confirm these results, especially the research should be focused on NPs being lacking literature.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13010162

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Nano – and microplastics: a comprehensive review on their exposure routes, translocation, and fate in humans
Anja F.R.M. Ramsperger, Enrico Bergamaschi, Marco Panizzolo, Ivana Fenoglio, Francesco Barbero, Ruud Peters, Anna Undas, Sebastian Purker, Bernd Giese, Carina R. Lalyer, Alba Tamargo, M. Victoria Moreno-Arribas, Hans-Peter Grossart, Dana Kühnel, Jana Dietrich, Friedrich Paulsen, Anani K. Afanou, Shan Zienolddiny-Narui, Stine Eriksen Hammer, Torunn Kringlen Ervik…Christian Laforsch

Abstract

Contamination of the environment with nano-and microplastic particles (NMPs) and its putative adverse effects on organisms, ecosystems, and human health is gaining increasing scientific and public attention. Various studies show that NMPs occur abundantly within the environment, leading to a high likelihood of human exposure to NMPs. Here, different exposure scenarios can occur. The most notable exposure routes of NMPs into the human body are via the airways and gastrointestinal tract (GIT) through inhalation or ingestion, but also via the skin due to the use of personal care products (PCPs) containing NMPs. Once NMPs have entered the human body, it is possible that they are translocated from the exposed organ to other body compartments. In our review article, we combine the current knowledge on the (1) exposure routes of NMPs to humans with the basic understanding of the potential (2) translocation mechanisms into human tissues and, consequently, their (3) fate within the human body. Regarding the (1) exposure routes, we reviewed the current knowledge on the occurrence of NMPs in food, beverages, personal care products and the air (focusing on indoors and workplaces) and found that the studies suggest an abundant presence of MPs within the exposure scenarios. The overall abundance of MPs in exposure matrices relevant to humans highlights the importance of understanding whether NMPs have the potential for tissue translocation. Therefore, we describe the current knowledge on the potential (2) translocation pathways of NMPs from the skin, GIT and respiratory systems to other body compartments. Here, particular attention was paid to how likely NMPs can translocate from the primary exposed organs to secondary organs due to naturally occurring defence mechanisms against tissue translocation. Based on the current understanding, we conclude that a dermal translocation of NMPs is rather unlikely. In contrast, small MPs and NPs can generally translocate from the GIT and respiratory system to other tissues. Thus, we reviewed the existing literature on the (3) fate of NMPs within the human body. Based on the current knowledge of the contamination of human exposure routes and the potential translocation mechanisms, we critically discuss the size of the detected particles reported in the fate studies. In some cases, the particles detected in human tissue samples exceed the size of a particle to overcome biological barriers allowing particle translocation into tissues. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of critically reading and discussing the presented results of NMP in human tissue samples.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.impact.2022.100441

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Microplastics pollution in freshwater fishes in the South of Italy: Characterization, distribution, and correlation with environmental pollutants
Giuseppina Forgione, Francesco Izzo, Mariano Mercurio, Domenico Cicchella, Luciana Dini, Gabriele Giancane, Marina Paolucci

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the presence, abundance, and chemical nature of microplastics (MPs) in the freshwater fish gastrointestinal tract in the South of Italy, and evaluated the possible correlation between MPs and environmental pollutants. Fifty specimens belonging to five species (Scardinius erythrophthalmus, Barbus barbus, Rutilus rubilio, Leuciscus cephalus, Salmo trutta), from twenty sites were collected. MPs chemical feature was identified by means of Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) and Raman microscopy. MPs were represented by 34.86 % fragments, film, and foam (all together MPs) and 65.14 % by fibers (MFs). The mean number of MPs/MFs per fish ranged from 6.25 ± 4.35 in R. rubilio and 2.26 ± 1.94 in B. barbus. The highest number of MPs/MFs per g of GIT was found in R. rubilio (9.07 ± 9.66), and the lowest in S. erythrophthalmus (0.75 ± 0.53). The highest number of MPs/MFs per fish species was found in L. cephalus (16), and the lowest in S. erythrophthalmus (4). Black predominated in every type of plastic debris identified, followed by blue and white, respectively for MFs and MPs. Polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP), were the main plastic polymers found. At fish sampling sites, comparing concentrations in soils of potentially toxic elements and persistent organic pollutants with the number of MPs/MFs in fish, a significant correlation was noted with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and, in particular, with PCB 105, PCB 118, PCB 156, PCB 157, and PCB 167. A strong correlation was also observed with all types of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) particularly with benzo(ghi)perylene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, and pyrene. The results of this study would be useful to draft management and action plans, promote intervention plans aiming at removing threats to species and habitats, and address ways of renaturalization.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.161032

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Microplastics pollution in freshwater fishes in the South of Italy: Characterization, distribution, and correlation with environmental pollutants
Giuseppina Forgione, Francesco Izzo, Mariano Mercurio, Domenico Cicchella, Luciana Dini, Gabriele Giancane, Marina Paolucci

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the presence, abundance, and chemical nature of microplastics (MPs) in the freshwater fish gastrointestinal tract in the South of Italy, and evaluated the possible correlation between MPs and environmental pollutants. Fifty specimens belonging to five species (Scardinius erythrophthalmus, Barbus barbus, Rutilus rubilio, Leuciscus cephalus, Salmo trutta), from twenty sites were collected. MPs chemical feature was identified by means of Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) and Raman microscopy. MPs were represented by 34.86 % fragments, film, and foam (all together MPs) and 65.14 % by fibers (MFs). The mean number of MPs/MFs per fish ranged from 6.25 ± 4.35 in R. rubilio and 2.26 ± 1.94 in B. barbus. The highest number of MPs/MFs per g of GIT was found in R. rubilio (9.07 ± 9.66), and the lowest in S. erythrophthalmus (0.75 ± 0.53). The highest number of MPs/MFs per fish species was found in L. cephalus (16), and the lowest in S. erythrophthalmus (4). Black predominated in every type of plastic debris identified, followed by blue and white, respectively for MFs and MPs. Polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP), were the main plastic polymers found. At fish sampling sites, comparing concentrations in soils of potentially toxic elements and persistent organic pollutants with the number of MPs/MFs in fish, a significant correlation was noted with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and, in particular, with PCB 105, PCB 118, PCB 156, PCB 157, and PCB 167. A strong correlation was also observed with all types of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) particularly with benzo(ghi)perylene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, and pyrene. The results of this study would be useful to draft management and action plans, promote intervention plans aiming at removing threats to species and habitats, and address ways of renaturalization.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.116348

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A baseline assessment of the relationship between microplastics and plasticizers in sediment samples collected from the Barcelona continental shelf
Francesco Saliu, Marina Lasagni, Sergio Andò, Luca Ferrero, Claudio Pellegrini, Antoni Calafat & Anna Sanchez-Vidal 

Abstract

It has been suggested that the seafloor may be a sink for the plastic debris that enters the ocean. Therefore, the collection of data in the seafloor sediments regarding the co-presence of microplastics (MPs) and contaminants associated to plastic is considered a relevant topic. However, the number of studies addressing their possible correlation in this environment is still limited, and very little is known about the mechanisms that determine the release of plastic additives from plastic items. Starting from this basis, we investigated the presence of MPs and eleven phthalic acid esters (PAEs) in the continental shelf offshore Barcelona. Following a shelf-slope continuum approach, we sampled sediments from five stations, and we performed analysis by means of infrared micro spectroscopy (µFTIR) and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS). MPs were found to range from 62.0 to 931.1 items/kg d.w. with maximum concentration in the submarine canyon Besòs and at the highest depth. Moreover, different trends in the size distribution of fibers and non-fibers were observed, indicating the occurrence of a size dependent selection mechanism during transport and accumulation. PAEs resulted comprised between 1.35 to 2.41 mg/kg with Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) the most abundant congeners (1.04 mg/kg). Statistical analysis revealed no correlation between the Σ11PAEs and the total MPs concentration, but correlation between DEHP and fibers (σ = 0.667, p = 0,037), that resulted both correlated to the distance to the coast (ρ = 0.941 with p = 0,008 and ρ = 0.673 with p = 0.035, respectively).

https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-24772-1

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Marine plastics alter the organic matter composition of the air-sea boundary layer, with influences on CO2 exchange: a large-scale analysis method to explore future ocean scenarios
Luisa Galgani, Eleni Tzempelikou, Ioanna Kalantzi, Anastasia Tsiola, Manolis Tsapakis, Paraskevi Pitta, Chiara Esposito, Anastasia Tsotskou, Iordanis Magiopoulos, Roberto Benavides, Tobias Steinhoff, Steven A. Loiselle 

Abstract

Microplastics are substrates for microbial activity and can influence biomass production. This has potentially important implications in the sea-surface microlayer, the marine boundary layer that controls gas exchange with the atmosphere and where biologically produced organic compounds can accumulate. In the present study, we used six large scale mesocosms to simulate future ocean scenarios of high plastic concentration. Each mesocosm was filled with 3 m3 of seawater from the oligotrophic Sea of Crete, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A known amount of standard polystyrene microbeads of 30 μm diameter was added to three replicate mesocosms, while maintaining the remaining three as plastic-free controls. Over the course of a 12-day experiment, we explored microbial organic matter dynamics in the sea-surface microlayer in the presence and absence of microplastic contamination of the underlying water. Our study shows that microplastics increased both biomass production and enrichment of carbohydrate-like and proteinaceous marine gel compounds in the sea-surface microlayer. Importantly, this resulted in a ∼3 % reduction in the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the underlying water. This reduction was associated to both direct and indirect impacts of microplastic pollution on the uptake of CO2 within the marine carbon cycle, by modifying the biogenic composition of the sea’s boundary layer with the atmosphere.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159624

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Microplastic contamination in terrestrial ecosystems: A study using barn owl (Tyto alba) pellets
Alessandro Nessi, Anna Winkler, Paolo Tremolada, Francesco Saliu, Marina Lasagni, Luca Luigi Mario Ghezzi, Alessandro Balestrieri 

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are recognised as an emerging environmental problem that needs to be carefully monitored. So far, MPs have been widely recorded in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Still, few studies have focused on MP occurrence in terrestrial ecosystems, although soils are suspected to be one of the main MP reservoirs. To test a non-invasive method for assessing MP contamination in terrestrial ecosystems, we analysed the pellets of a top terrestrial predator, the barn owl (Tyto alba). Sixty pellets were collected from three agricultural areas (20 pellets each) and analysed to assess both barn owl diet and MP content. Thirty-four MPs were confirmed by micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (μ-FTIR) analysis in 33% of the pellets (min-max 1–5 MPs per pellet). Most of the detected items were microfibres (88.2%). Polyethylene terephthalate, polyacrylonitrile and polyamide were the most abundant polymers. One of the three sites was significantly less contaminated. In the two sites with the highest MP occurrences, barn owl diet was characterised by predation on synanthropic rodents, particularly brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), which may indicate habitat degradation and increased exposure to MPs. Analyses also suggest that Savi’s pine vole (Microtus savii) is the prey least at risk of MP contamination, probably due to its strictly herbivorous diet. We argue that the analysis of barn owl pellets may represent a cost-effective method for monitoring MP contamination in terrestrial ecosystems.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.136281

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Identification and quantification of potential microplastics in shellfish harvested in Sardinia (Italy) by using transillumination stereomicroscopy
Giuseppa Lorenzoni, Rita Melillo, Alessandro Graziano Mudadu,corresponding author Gabriella Piras, Simona Cau, Katia Usai, Luisa Corda, Sara Salza, Tiziana Tedde, Bruna Vodret, Sebastiano Virgilio and Domenico Meloni

Abstract

Plastics are non-biodegradable polymers made up of different groups of petrochemical materials. Several biotic and abiotic factors can change the density of plastic fragmenting it and originating microplastics (MPs). MPs have been defined as small pieces of plastic less than 5 mm in size. Due to their small size, they are an emerging concern in the marine environment since they can be ingested by aquatic organisms, especially filter-feeding organisms, such as bivalve mollusks. Impacts of MPs exposure have been shown at various levels of biological organization, from cellular to tissue to individual and population levels. For example, oxidative stress and inflammation have been observed in copepods and mussels, obstruction and physical damage of the digestive tract were found in fish and swimming behavior alterations, disruption of foraging and feeding behavior and overall reduced fitness and survival were observed in fish and oysters. In addition, MPs can act as a vector for the transfer of chemicals to marine biota. The aim of the present study was the identification and quantification of potential MPs in shellfish harvested in Sardinia (Italy) by using transillumination stereomicroscopy. Bivalves were collected from 4 of the main production areas located along the Sardinian coast and selected according to the principles of the risk assessment. The results of the present study demonstrated the presence of potential MPs in 70% of the analyzed samples: the presence of MPs in bivalve mollusks may pose a threat to food safety, and there is an urgent need to evaluate the potential risks of MPs to human health.

https://doi.org/10.4081/ijfs.2022.10738

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The Analysis of the Mycobiota in Plastic Polluted Soil Reveals a Reduction in Metabolic Ability
by Marta Elisabetta Eleonora Temporiti,Lidia Nicola ,Carolina Elena Girometta,Anna Roversi,Chiara Daccò and Solveig Tosi

Abstract

Plastic pollution is a growing environmental issue that results in its accumulation and persistence in soil for many decades, with possible effects on soil quality and ecosystem services. Microorganisms, and especially fungi, are a keystone of soil biodiversity and soil metabolic capacity. The aim of this research was to study soil fungal biodiversity and soil microbial metabolic profiles in three different sites in northern Italy, where macro- and microplastic concentration in soil was measured. The metabolic analyses of soil microorganisms were performed by Biolog EcoPlates, while the ITS1 fragment of the 18S ribosomal cDNA was used as a target for the metabarcoding of fungal communities. The results showed an intense and significant decrease in soil microbial metabolic ability in the site with the highest concentration of microplastics. Moreover, the soil fungal community composition was significantly different in the most pristine site when compared with the other two sites. The metabarcoding of soil samples revealed a general dominance of Mortierellomycota followed by Ascomycota in all sampled soils. Moreover, a dominance of fungi involved in the degradation of plant residues was observed in all three sites. In conclusion, this study lays the foundation for further research into the effect of plastics on soil microbial communities and their activities.

https://doi.org/10.3390/jof8121247

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Microplastic contamination in terrestrial ecosystems: A study using barn owl (Tyto alba) pellets
Alessandro Nessi, Anna Winkler, Paolo Tremolada, Francesco Saliu, Marina Lasagni, Luca Luigi Mario Ghezzi, Alessandro Balestrieri

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) are recognised as an emerging environmental problem that needs to be carefully monitored. So far, MPs have been widely recorded in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Still, few studies have focused on MP occurrence in terrestrial ecosystems, although soils are suspected to be one of the main MP reservoirs. To test a non-invasive method for assessing MP contamination in terrestrial ecosystems, we analysed the pellets of a top terrestrial predator, the barn owl (Tyto alba). Sixty pellets were collected from three agricultural areas (20 pellets each) and analysed to assess both barn owl diet and MP content. Thirty-four MPs were confirmed by micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (μ-FTIR) analysis in 33% of the pellets (min-max 1–5 MPs per pellet). Most of the detected items were microfibres (88.2%). Polyethylene terephthalate, polyacrylonitrile and polyamide were the most abundant polymers. One of the three sites was significantly less contaminated. In the two sites with the highest MP occurrences, barn owl diet was characterised by predation on synanthropic rodents, particularly brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), which may indicate habitat degradation and increased exposure to MPs. Analyses also suggest that Savi’s pine vole (Microtus savii) is the prey least at risk of MP contamination, probably due to its strictly herbivorous diet. We argue that the analysis of barn owl pellets may represent a cost-effective method for monitoring MP contamination in terrestrial ecosystems.

https://doi.org/10.3390/jof8121247

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Investigating the effects of microplastic ingestion in Scyliorhinus canicula from the South of Sicily
Mancuso Monique, Panarello Giuseppe, Falco Francesca, Di Paola Davide, Serena Savoca, Capillo Gioele, Romeo Teresa, Presti Giovanni, Gullotta Eleonora, Spanò Nunziacarla, Bono Gioacchino, Salvatore Giuliano, Bottari Teresa 
 

Abstract

Plastic pollution is increasing dramatically worldwide, causing adverse effects on a wide variety of marine organisms at all trophic levels. As predators, sharks play a key role in marine ecosystems and they could especially be threatened by the ingestion of microplastics. This study contributes to expand the existing data on the MPs ingestion by a Mediterranean elasmobranch species, Scyliorhinus canicula, adding new information on the potential impact that this class of contaminants can have on the metabolism of this ecologically relevant species. The present research is aimed: i) to assess if the ingestion of MPs in S. canicula is related to sex, size and depth of catch; ii) to evaluate the effect of MPs on fish body condition; iii) to evaluate if the ingested MPs influence the amino acid and fatty acid composition of eye and liver. A total of 61 specimens of S. canicula were analysed. Forty-nine individuals (80.3 %) had ingested plastic items. Totally, 147 plastic elements were found, mainly belonging to small MPs (49 %), and large MPs (46 %), mostly represented by fibers (84 %). The predominant colour was black. No differences were found between sex and size. A difference in the number of items/specimens related to the deep, highest between 50 and 100 m (4.4), while the lowest between 101 and 500 m (2.1) was found. The condition factor (Kn) value was equal to 1.00 highlighting the wellness of the fish. Arginine (20.1 %), Glutamate (17.4), Phenylalanine (15.7 %), Proline (15.6 %) and were the most abundant amino acids in the eyes of S. canicula. The relative fatty acid composition of the livers was dominated by fatty acids SA (30.2 %) (SFA), CA (29.9 %) (SFA) and OA (22.4 %) (MUFA). This paper reports a study on the relationship between amino acids and fatty acids composition and ingested MPs, highlighting that no significant effects were found.

 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157875

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