Environmental Exposure to Microplastics: Effects on Animals and Human Health

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Exposome Analysis and Risk Assessment".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2024) | Viewed by 14309

Special Issue Editor

SHOU-College of Marine Ecology and Environment, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai 201306, China
Interests: microplastics transportation; fragmentation; image analysis; polymer degradation; cracking effects

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of microplastics and its related issues has slowly gained traction in the field of environmental science over the past 20 years. Several resources have been devoted to measuring the amount of microplastics in various media. Its widespread use has led to serious concern regarding the effects that they may have on human health and the environment. Yet, it is still unclear how hazardous and dangerous microplastics and nanoplastics are in actual ecosystems. This is particularly important in order to measure exposure in environmentally relevant conditions. In addition, the experimental evidence based on animals is not sufficient to support any models. This Special Issue invites contributions that cover all aspects of the topic, resulting from the exposure of microplastics and nanoplastics on animals and humans. The endpoints comprise all conceivable direct and indirect effects. Indeed, observations can be made based on transportation and excretion, subcellular impacts, and biomarker responses. The scope also includes the sorption, desorption, leaching, and toxicity of the related substances. Further, a useful contribution to the special topic may originate from a meta analysis based on the present datasets.

Dr. Lei Su
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • microplastic
  • nanoplastics
  • risk assessment
  • toxicity
  • environmental stressors
  • effects
  • animals
  • humans

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

15 pages, 2795 KiB  
Article
Microplastics and Endocrine Disruptors in Typical Wastewater Treatment Plants in Megacity Shanghai
by Yuxiao Tong, Manjun Xie, Hanwen Xv, Ruihua Sun, Qian Wang and Juanying Li
Toxics 2024, 12(5), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12050345 - 8 May 2024
Viewed by 795
Abstract
The fast development of China’s urbanization has led to a notable release of emerging pollutants, including microplastics (MPs) and endocrine disruptors (EDCs). Generally, these pollutants enter the coastal environment through the discharge of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and finally threaten the organisms in [...] Read more.
The fast development of China’s urbanization has led to a notable release of emerging pollutants, including microplastics (MPs) and endocrine disruptors (EDCs). Generally, these pollutants enter the coastal environment through the discharge of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and finally threaten the organisms in the receiving waterbody. The study investigated the environmental behavior of MPs and EDCs in two typical WWTPs in one of the megacities in China, Shanghai. The abundance of MPs in the influent ranged from 321 to 976 items/L. Four shapes (films, fragments, fibers, and microbead) were found, while fibers and films dominated. Transparent (31–63%) and white (20–47%) MPs were more frequently observed, while polyethylene terephthalate, cellulose, and cellophane were the main polymetric materials. The size of the MPs fell between 15.8 μm and 2220 μm, and the smaller one (<500 μm) dominated. The removal efficiencies of the two WWTPs for MPs ranged from 64% to 92%, and both WWTPs performed better for large pieces of MPs (>500 μm). For EDCs, total concentrations in the influent were detected, ranging from 113 to 2780 ng/L. Two groups, including phenolic estrogens (PEs) and steroid estrogens (SEs), were detected, and PEs, especially bisphenol A (BPA), were the predominant individuals among the studied EDCs. Specifically, PEs ranged from 82.8 to 2637 ng/L, while SEs ranged from 27.3 to 143 ng/L. The removal efficiencies of the WWTPs for EDCs varied (82.8–100%) as well, possibly due to the different treatment compartments and contamination load in the influent. Seasonal variations for both MPs and EDCs were observed. Specifically, concentrations of MPs and EDCs in WWTPs influent were higher in the wet season, as well as the removal efficiency. Furthermore, there was a correlation observed between the concentrations of MPs and EDCs, suggesting that MPs and EDCs may originate from the same source and that EDCs released by MPs cannot be ignored during treatment. Finally, the study evaluated the environmental risk of the effluents. MPs led to a minor risk (Level I), while EDCs might lead to an adverse impact on algae (RQs = 0.0014–0.024) and fish (RQs = 3.4–30.2). In summary, WWTPs received considerable amounts of MPs and EDCs. Although the WWTPs removed the contaminants efficiently, the environmental risk of the effluent needs to be noted. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 2504 KiB  
Article
White Stork Pellets: Non-Invasive Solution to Monitor Anthropogenic Particle Pollution
by Dora Bjedov, Alma Mikuška, Vlatka Gvozdić, Petar Glavaš, Dora Gradečak and Mirta Sudarić Bogojević
Toxics 2024, 12(4), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12040236 - 23 Mar 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1305
Abstract
The present study applied a non-invasive method to analyse anthropogenic particles and prey items in white stork (Ciconia ciconia) pellets. Pellets (n = 20) were obtained from white stork nests during the 2020 breeding season from two sites in Croatia. [...] Read more.
The present study applied a non-invasive method to analyse anthropogenic particles and prey items in white stork (Ciconia ciconia) pellets. Pellets (n = 20) were obtained from white stork nests during the 2020 breeding season from two sites in Croatia. In total, 7869 anthropogenic particles were isolated. The majority of particles were fragments, while previous studies on other birds often reported fibres. An ATR–FTIR polymer analysis detected glass and construction and building materials, as well as several compounds associated with plastic masses. Polymer investigation revealed the presence of dotriacontane and octacosane, which are by-products of polyethylene (PE) degradation and transformation. Additionally, the detection of vinylidene chloride (VDC) highlights the historical contribution of polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) to plastic pollution. Significant variation in particle quantity and size between the sampling sites was detected, with larger particles found at sites associated with the metal mechanical engineering industry and agriculture. Prey assessment revealed chitin remains of large insects such as Orthoptera and Coleoptera. This research confirms the potential of pellet analysis as a valuable tool for assessing the presence of anthropogenic particles in the environment. However, further research is needed to fully understand the extent of particle ingestion, particle sources and potential impact. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 3510 KiB  
Article
The Exploration of Joint Toxicity and Associated Mechanisms of Primary Microplastics and Methamphetamine in Zebrafish Larvae
by Hao Wang, Jindong Xu, Yang Yuan, Zhenglu Wang, Wenjing Zhang and Jiana Li
Toxics 2024, 12(1), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12010064 - 12 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1377
Abstract
The co-existence of microplastics (MPs) and methamphetamine (METH) in aquatic ecosystems has been widely reported; however, the joint toxicity and associated mechanisms remain unclear. Here, zebrafish larvae were exposed individually or jointly to polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) MPs (20 mg/L) and [...] Read more.
The co-existence of microplastics (MPs) and methamphetamine (METH) in aquatic ecosystems has been widely reported; however, the joint toxicity and associated mechanisms remain unclear. Here, zebrafish larvae were exposed individually or jointly to polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) MPs (20 mg/L) and METH (1 and 5 mg/L) for 10 days. The mortality, behavioral functions, and histopathology of fish from different groups were determined. PS MPs posed a stronger lethal risk to fish than PVC MPs, while the addition of METH at 5 mg/L significantly increased mortality. Obvious deposition of MPs was observed in the larvae’s intestinal tract in the exposure groups. Meanwhile, treatment with MPs induced intestinal deposits and intestinal hydrops in the fish, and this effect was enhanced with the addition of METH. Furthermore, MPs significantly suppressed the locomotor activation of zebrafish larvae, showing extended immobility duration and lower velocity. METH stimulated the outcome of PS but had no effect on the fish exposed to PVC. However, combined exposure to MPs and METH significantly increased the turn angle, which declined in individual MP exposure groups. RNA sequencing and gene quantitative analysis demonstrated that exposure to PS MPs and METH activated the MAPK signaling pathway and the C-type lectin signaling pathway of fish, while joint exposure to PVC MPs and METH stimulated steroid hormone synthesis pathways and the C-type lectin signaling pathway in zebrafish, contributing to cellular apoptosis and immune responses. This study contributes to the understanding of the joint toxicity of microplastics and pharmaceuticals to zebrafish, highlighting the significance of mitigating microplastic pollution to preserve the health of aquatic organisms and human beings. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 3511 KiB  
Article
Methamphetamine Shows Different Joint Toxicity for Different Types of Microplastics on Zebrafish Larvae by Mediating Oxidative Stress
by Jindong Xu, Wenqi Yang, Dongyi Wang, Zhenglu Wang, Chuang Liu and Jiana Li
Toxics 2024, 12(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12010009 - 22 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1555
Abstract
The coexistence of polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PVC) microplastics (MPs) and methamphetamine (METH) in aquatic systems is evident. However, the joint toxicity is unclear. Here, zebrafish larvae were exposed to single PS and PVC MPs (20 mg L−1) and combined with [...] Read more.
The coexistence of polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PVC) microplastics (MPs) and methamphetamine (METH) in aquatic systems is evident. However, the joint toxicity is unclear. Here, zebrafish larvae were exposed to single PS and PVC MPs (20 mg L−1) and combined with METH (250 and 500 μg L−1) for 10 days. The results indicated that acute exposure to PS and PVC MPs induced lethal effects on zebrafish larvae (10–20%). Treatment with MPs markedly suppressed the locomotion of zebrafish, showing as the lengthy immobility (51–74%) and lower velocity (0.09–0.55 cm s−1) compared with the control (1.07 cm s−1). Meanwhile, histopathological analysis revealed pronounced depositions of MPs particles in fish’s intestinal tract, triggering inflammatory responses (histological scores: 1.6–2.0). In the coexposure groups, obviously inflammatory responses were found. Furthermore, the up-regulations of the genes involved in the oxidative kinase gene and inflammation related genes implied that oxidative stress triggered by MPs on zebrafish larvae might be responsible for the mortality and locomotion retardant. The antagonistic and stimulatory effects of METH on the expression changes of genes found in PVC and PS groups implied the contrary combined toxicity of PS/PVC MPs and METH. This study for the first time estimated the different toxicity of PS and PVC MPs on fish and the joint effects with METH at high environmental levels. The results suggested PS showed stronger toxicity than PVC for fish larvae. The addition of METH stimulated the effects of PS but antagonized the effects of PVC, promoting control strategy development on MPs and METH in aquatic environments. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

14 pages, 3166 KiB  
Article
Microplastic Quantification in Aquatic Birds: Biomonitoring the Environmental Health of the Panjkora River Freshwater Ecosystem in Pakistan
by Muhammad Bilal, Atif Yaqub, Habib Ul Hassan, Sohail Akhtar, Naseem Rafiq, Muhammad Ishaq Ali Shah, Ibrar Hussain, Muhammad Salman Khan, Asad Nawaz, Salim Manoharadas, Mohammad Rizwan Khan, Takaomi Arai and Patricio De Los Ríos-Escalante
Toxics 2023, 11(12), 972; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11120972 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1724
Abstract
Microplastic pollution has become a global concern, with potential negative impacts on various ecosystems and wildlife species. Among these species, ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are particularly vulnerable due to their feeding habits and proximity to aquatic environments contaminated with microplastics. The current [...] Read more.
Microplastic pollution has become a global concern, with potential negative impacts on various ecosystems and wildlife species. Among these species, ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are particularly vulnerable due to their feeding habits and proximity to aquatic environments contaminated with microplastics. The current study was designed to monitor microplastic (MP) pollutants in the freshwater ecosystem of the Panjkora River, Lower Dir, Pakistan. A total of twenty (20) duck samples were brought up for four months and 13 days on the banks of the river, with no food intake outside the river. When they reached an average weight of 2.41 ± 0.53 kg, all samples were sacrificed, dissected, and transported in an ice box to the laboratory for further analysis. After sample preparation, such as digestion with 10% potassium hydroxide (KOH), density separation, filtration, and identification, the MP content was counted. A total of 2033 MP particles were recovered from 20 ducks with a mean value of 44.6 ± 15.8 MPs/crop and 57.05 ± 18.7 MPs/gizzard. MPs detected in surface water were 31.2 ± 15.5 MPs/L. The major shape types of MPs recovered were fragments in crop (67%) and gizzard (58%) samples and fibers in surface water (56%). Other types of particles recovered were fibers, sheets, and foams. The majority of these detected MP particles were in the size range of 300–500 µm (63%) in crops, and 50–150 µm (55%) in gizzards, while in water samples the most detected particles were in the range of 150–300 µm (61%). Chemical characterization by FTIR found six types of polymers. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) had the greatest polymer detection rate (39.2%), followed by polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (28.3%), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) (22.7%), polystyrene (6.6%), co-polymerized polypropylene (2.5%), and polypropylene homopolymer (0.7%). This study investigated the presence of microplastics in the crops and gizzards of ducks, as well as in river surface water. The results revealed the significant and pervasive occurrence of microplastics in both the avian digestive systems and the surrounding water environment. These findings highlight the potential threat of microplastic pollution to wildlife and ecosystems, emphasizing the need for further research and effective mitigation strategies to address this pressing environmental concern. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 2900 KiB  
Article
Distribution Characteristics of Microplastics in Surface Seawater off the Yangtze River Estuary Section and Analysis of Ecological Risk Assessment
by Xiao Ji, Shuaishuai Yan, Yanlong He, Haisheng He and Hanqi Liu
Toxics 2023, 11(11), 889; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11110889 - 30 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1718
Abstract
Microplastics are widespread in the oceans as a new type of pollutant. Due to the special geographical environment characteristics, the Yangtze River estuary region become hotspot for microplastics research. In 2017 and 2019, surface seawater microplastics samples were collected from five stations off [...] Read more.
Microplastics are widespread in the oceans as a new type of pollutant. Due to the special geographical environment characteristics, the Yangtze River estuary region become hotspot for microplastics research. In 2017 and 2019, surface seawater microplastics samples were collected from five stations off the Yangtze River estuary during four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter). The abundance and characteristics of microplastics in seawater were researched. The results showed that microplastics widely existed in surface seawater; the average abundance of microplastics in seawater was (0.17 ± 0.14) items/m3 (0.00561 ± 0.00462) mg/m3; and accounting for 80% of the total plastic debris, the abundance of microplastics was at moderately low levels compared to national and international studies. The particle size of most microplastics was between 1 mm to 2 mm, accounting for 36.1% of the total microplastics. The main shapes of microplastics were fiber, flake, and line, accounting for 39.5%, 28.4%, and 20.8%, respectively. Polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and polyethylene were the main components of microplastics, accounting for 41.0%, 25.1%, and 24.9%, respectively. Yellow, green, black, and transparent were the most common colors, accounting for 21.9%, 19.6%, 16.5%, and 15.7%, respectively. This study shows that the spatial distribution of microplastics in the surface waters off the Yangtze River estuary shows a decreasing trend from nearshore to farshore due to the influence of land-based inputs, hydrodynamics, and human activities; the distribution of microplastics has obvious seasonal changes, and the level of microplastic pollution is higher in summer. The potential ecological risk of microplastics in the surface waters off the Yangtze River estuary is relatively small. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 2002 KiB  
Article
Lutein Modulates Oxidative Stress, Inflammatory and Apoptotic Biomarkers Related to Di-(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate (DEHP) Hepato-Nephrotoxicity in Male Rats: Role of Nuclear Factor Kappa B
by Dina R. S. Gad El-Karim, Mohamed A. Lebda, Badriyah S. Alotaibi, Attalla F. El-kott, Heba I. Ghamry and Mustafa Shukry
Toxics 2023, 11(9), 742; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11090742 - 30 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1225
Abstract
Phthalates are widely distributed in our environment due to their usage in many industries, especially in plastic production, which has become an essential part of daily life. This investigation aimed to assess the potential remedial influence of lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid, on [...] Read more.
Phthalates are widely distributed in our environment due to their usage in many industries, especially in plastic production, which has become an essential part of daily life. This investigation aimed to assess the potential remedial influence of lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid, on phthalate-triggered damage to the liver and kidneys. When di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) was administered to male albino rats over sixty straight days at a dosage of 200 mg/kg body weight, it resulted in a significant increase in the serum activity of liver enzymes (AST, ALT, and GGT), alpha-fetoprotein, creatinine, and cystatin-C, as well as disruptions in the serum protein profile. In addition, intoxication with DEHP affected hepato-renal tissues’ redox balance. It increased the content of some proinflammatory cytokines, nuclear factor kappa B (Nf-κB), and apoptotic marker (caspase-3); likewise, DEHP-induced toxicity and decreased the level of anti-apoptotic protein (Bcl-2) in these tissues. Lutein administration at a dose level of 40 mg/kg b.w efficiently facilitated the changes in serum biochemical constituents, hepato-renal oxidative disturbance, and inflammatory, apoptotic, and histopathological alterations induced by DEHP intoxication. In conclusion, it can be presumed that lutein is protective as a natural carotenoid against DEHP toxicity. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

12 pages, 4967 KiB  
Article
Combined Toxicities of Di-Butyl Phthalate and Polyethylene Terephthalate to Zebrafish Embryos
by Qiang Zhang, Wenjie Ma and Jingmin Zhu
Toxics 2023, 11(5), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11050469 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1845
Abstract
The increasing concern for the ecological risks of microplastics (MPs) as carriers of hydrophobic organic contaminants is evident. Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) is extensively utilized as an additive in plastic products, and both DBP and MPs are widespread in the environment. However, the combined [...] Read more.
The increasing concern for the ecological risks of microplastics (MPs) as carriers of hydrophobic organic contaminants is evident. Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) is extensively utilized as an additive in plastic products, and both DBP and MPs are widespread in the environment. However, the combined toxicity of these substances remains uncertain. In this study, zebrafish embryos were employed to assess the toxic effects of polyethylene terephthalate (PET, MPs) and DBP, with a focus on the DBP toxicities influenced by PET. The embryonic chorion was partially covered by PET particles, and PET led to a delayed hatching of zebrafish embryos without inducing death or teratogenesis. On the other hand, exposure to DBP considerably inhibited the hatching of embryos, leading to severe lethal and teratogenic effects. The most common phenotypes induced by DBP exposure were delayed yolk sac absorption and pericardial edema. The mortality increased in co-treatment with 100 particles/mL PET and 2 mg/L DBP at 24 hpf and 48 hpf. The malformation phenotype, bent notochord, and delayed yolk sac absorption became more severe in 1 mg/L DBP exposition with the co-exposure of 100 particles/mL PET at 72 hpf. PET might act as a carrier that enhances the bioavailability of ambient DBP. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

14 pages, 2186 KiB  
Review
A Hidden Pathway for Human Exposure to Micro- and Nanoplastics—The Mechanical Fragmentation of Plastic Products during Daily Use
by Yang Yu, Nicholas Craig and Lei Su
Toxics 2023, 11(9), 774; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11090774 - 12 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1820
Abstract
In numerous environmental compartments around the world, the existence of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) in the environment has been verified. A growing number of studies have looked at the interaction between MNPs and human activities due to the risks they may pose to [...] Read more.
In numerous environmental compartments around the world, the existence of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) in the environment has been verified. A growing number of studies have looked at the interaction between MNPs and human activities due to the risks they may pose to humans. Exposure pathways are key factors in measuring MNPs risks. However, current research largely ignores the contribution of mechanical fragmentation pathways to MNPs exposure during the daily use of plastic products. Our critical review demonstrated the research gap between MNP fragmentation and risk assessments via a network analysis. The release of fragmented MNPs and their properties were also described at various scales, with emphasis on environmental stressors and mechanical fragmentation. In the scenarios of daily use, plastic products such as food packaging and clothing provide acute pathways of MNPs exposure. The release tendency of those products (up to 102 mg MNPs) are several orders of magnitude higher than MNPs abundances in natural compartments. Despite the limited evidence available, waste recycling, landfill and municipal activities represented long-term pathways for MNPs fragmentation and point sources of MNPs pollution in environmental media. Assessing the health effects of the fragmentation process, unfortunately, is further hampered by the current absence of human exposure impact assessments for secondary MNPs. We proposed that future studies should integrate aging evaluation into risk assessment frameworks and establish early warning signs of MNPs released from plastic products. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Back to TopTop