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Biodegradable and Petroleum-Based Microplastics Do Not Differ in Their Ingestion and Excretion but in Their Biological Effects in a Freshwater Invertebrate Gammarus fossarum

Man-Society-Environment (Program MGU), Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Vesalgasse 1, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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Academic Editor: A. Dick Vethaak
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 774; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14070774
Received: 30 May 2017 / Revised: 10 July 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 13 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microplastics: Hazards to Environmental and Human Health)
Research on the uptake and effects of bioplastics by aquatic organisms is still in its infancy. Here, we aim to advance the field by comparing uptake and effects of microplastic particles (MPP) of a biodegradable bioMPP (polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)) and petroleum-based MPP (polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)) in the freshwater amphipod Gammarus fossarum. Ingestion of both MPP in different particle sizes (32–250 µm) occurred after 24 h, with highest ingestion of particles in the range 32–63 µm and almost complete egestion after 64 h. A four-week effect-experiment showed a significant decrease of the assimilation efficiency in amphipods exposed to the petroleum-based MPP from week two onwards. The petroleum-based PMMA affected assimilation efficiency significantly in contrast to the biodegradable PHB, but overall differences in direct comparison of MPP types were small. Both MPP types led to a significantly lower wet weight gain relative to the control treatments. After four weeks, differences between both MPP types and silica, used as a natural particle control, were detected. In summary, these results suggest that both MPP types provoke digestive constraints on the amphipods, which go beyond those of natural non-palatable particles. This highlights the need for more detailed research comparing environmental effects of biodegradable and petroleum-based MPP and testing those against naturally occurring particle loads. View Full-Text
Keywords: microplastic pollution; environmental effects; bioplastic; amphipoda microplastic pollution; environmental effects; bioplastic; amphipoda
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Straub, S.; Hirsch, P.E.; Burkhardt-Holm, P. Biodegradable and Petroleum-Based Microplastics Do Not Differ in Their Ingestion and Excretion but in Their Biological Effects in a Freshwater Invertebrate Gammarus fossarum. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 774.

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