Microplastics: new methods are needed to filter tiny particles from drinking water, 2019
The presence of plastics in aquatic environments is a growing concern across the EU. This study explored the amount of microplastic particles present in raw and treated water at three water-treatment plants in the Czech Republic. While treated water contained fewer particles than raw1 fresh water, the amount found in treated water was not negligible, and largely comprised tiny particles of <10 micrometres (μm) in diameter. Ways to filter microplastics from potable water must be identified and their risk to humans, sources and routes into drinking water determined, say the researchers, Science for Environment Policy reports.
- Microplastics were present in all water samples from different treatment plants.
- The concentration of microplastics was higher in raw water than in treated water.
- Particles of 1–10 μm were the most abundant, accounting for up to 95%.
- Polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene and polyethylene microplastics prevailed.
The study investigates the content of microplastic particles in freshwater and drinking water. Specifically, three water treatment plants (WTPs) supplied by different kinds of water bodies were selected and their raw and treated water was analysed for microplastics (MPs). Microplastics were found in all water samples and their average abundance ranged from 1473 ± 34 to 3605 ± 497 particles L−1 in raw water and from 338 ± 76 to 628 ± 28 particles L−1 in treated water, depending on the WTP. This study is one of very few that determine microplastics down to the size of 1 μm, while MPs smaller than 10 μm were the most plentiful in both raw and treated water samples, accounting for up to 95%. Further, MPs were divided into three categories according to their shape. Fragments clearly prevailed at two of the WTPs and fibres together with fragments predominated at one case. Despite 12 different materials forming the microplastics being identified, the majority of the MPs (>70%) comprised of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PP (polypropylene) and PE (polyethylene). This study contributes to fill the knowledge gap in the field of emerging microplastic pollution of drinking water and water sources, which is of concern due to the potential exposure of microplastics to humans.
Simulating human exposure to indoor airborne microplastics using a Breathing Thermal Manikin
Researcher Alvise Vianello’s scientific report suggests that when we spend time indoors we are probably filling up our lungs with tiny plastic particles shed by all the plastic stuff filling our apartments, vice reports. Image credit Erica Cirino.
2019 Study Abstract
Humans are potentially exposed to microplastics through food, drink, and air. The first two pathways have received quite some scientific attention, while little is known about the latter. We address the exposure of humans to indoor airborne microplastics using a Breathing Thermal Manikin. Three apartments were investigated, and samples analysed through FPA-µFTIR-Imaging spectroscopy followed by automatic analyses down to 11 µm particle size. All samples were contaminated with microplastics, with concentrations between 1.7 and 16.2 particles m−3. Synthetic fragments and fibres accounted, on average, for 4% of the total identified particles, while nonsynthetic particles of protein and cellulose constituted 91% and 4%, respectively. Polyester was the predominant synthetic polymer in all samples (81%), followed by polyethylene (5%), and nylon (3%). Microplastics were typically of smaller size than nonsynthetic particles. As the identified microplastics can be inhaled, these results highlight the potential direct human exposure to microplastic contamination via indoor air.
You could be swallowing a credit card’s weight in plastic every week
Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new study suggests.
Microplastics are ubiquitous across ecosystems, yet the exposure risk to humans is unresolved.
Focusing on the American diet, we evaluated the number of microplastic particles in commonly consumed foods in relation to their recommended daily intake.The potential for microplastic inhalation and how the source of drinking water may affect microplastic consumption were also explored.
Our analysis used 402 data points from 26 studies, which represents over 3600 processed samples.
Evaluating approximately 15% of Americans’ caloric intake, we estimate that annual microplastics consumption ranges from 39000 to 52000 particles depending on age and sex. These estimates increase to 74000 and 121000 when inhalation is considered. Additionally, individuals who meet their recommended water intake through only bottled sources may be ingesting an additional 90000 microplastics annually, compared to 4000 microplastics for those who consume only tap water.
These estimates are subject to large amounts of variation; however, given methodological and data limitations, these values are likely underestimates.
See also CNN press release.
Plastic leachates impair growth and oxygen production in Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria
2019 Study Abstract
Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web.
To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling.
Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting.
We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate.
Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcus community composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.
Nanoplastic Ingestion Enhances Toxicity of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Monogonont Rotifer Brachionus koreanus via Multixenobiotic Resistance (MXR) Disruption
Nano-sized particles of plastic can be more damaging to marine species than larger sized microplastics, a new study shows.
Lab tests revealed that nanoplastics can damage cell membranes in tiny marine creatures called rotifers (Rotifera), disrupting their natural defences against toxicants.
The researchers found that rotifers that had been exposed to nanoparticles of polystyrene were significantly more susceptible to the lethal effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Reference.
Among the various materials found inside microplastic pollution, nanosized microplastics are of particular concern due to difficulties in quantification and detection; moreover, they are predicted to be abundant in aquatic environments with stronger toxicity than microsized microplastics. Here, we demonstrated a stronger accumulation of nanosized microbeads in the marine rotifer Brachionus koreanus compared to microsized ones, which was associated with oxidative stress-induced damages on lipid membranes. In addition, multixenobiotic resistance conferred by P-glycoproteins and multidrug resistance proteins, as a first line of membrane defense, was inhibited by nanoplastic pre-exposure, leading to enhanced toxicity of 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether and triclosan in B. koreanus. Our study provides a molecular mechanistic insight into the toxicity of nanosized microplastics toward aquatic invertebrates and further implies the significance of synergetic effects of microplastics with other environmental persistent organic pollutants.
Mini-reportage et interview Brut, Décembre 2019
Les microplastiques sont dans l’eau qu’on boit, dans notre nourriture, et contaminent toute la chaîne alimentaire.
Adding microplastics to products is irresponsible since sustainable alternatives already exist
Watch interviews with leading experts and researchers in the field of microplastics as well as representatives from environmental NGOs and industry who explain their concerns with the use of plastic in our society.
Video published on 25 January 2019, by EUchemicals.
Is the EU taking the first step to completely phase out microplastics ?
Zero Waste Europe, Press Release, Brussels 30/01/2019
“The EU will use its powerful chemical laws to stop most microplastics and microbeads being added to cosmetics, paints, detergents, some farm, medical and other products, according to a draft law due to be tabled today.” …
… “The restriction is expected to become law across Europe by 2020. It will prevent an estimated 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, the agency says. NGOs welcomed the move as a significant step forward, but strongly warn that it grants unnecessary delays for most industrial sectors and excludes some biodegradable polymers. As it stands, the draft law will only restrict one sector when it comes into force, namely cleansing products made by firms that have already pledged to stop using microplastic. Other sectors will be granted 2-6 years before the law takes effect. The proposal will go to public consultation this summer followed by economic, social and risk assessments, then a vote by government experts in the secretive REACH committee not before early 2020.” …
Read EU moves to ban microplastics in most products, ECHA’s proposal, ECHA’s annex and press release.
Microplastics discovered in human stools across the globe in ‘first study of its kind’
Researchers monitored a group of participants from 8 countries across the world with results showing that every single stool sample tested positive for the presence of microplastic and up to 9 different plastic types were identified.
Vienna, October 23, 2018 – Microplastics have been found in the human food chain as particles made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene-terephthalate (PET) and others were detected in human stools, research presented today at the 26th UEG Week in Vienna reveals.
Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Environment Agency Austria monitored a group of participants from countries across the world, including Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the UK and Austria. The results show that every single stool sample tested positive for the presence of microplastic and up to nine different plastic types were identified.
IN ITALY THE FIRST ANALYSIS CARRIED OUT BY IL SALVAGENTE FIND MICROPLASTICS IN INDUSTRIAL SOFT DRINK
A recent investigation in Italy found microplastics present in soft drinks.
We live immersed in plastic. It can be found everywhere; we see it in the seas, dragged by the waters of our rivers, even scattered on mountain peaks or in the countryside that we still consider uncontaminated… Now we are beginning to realize that we eat and drink it. And we can do very little about that, if things do not change. In fact, what comes from our food, spices, water and, as shown by the first analysis carried out by Il Salvagente on 18 industrial beverages, from cola to orangeade, from lemonade to iced tea, we cannot see it with the naked eye nor can we avoid it.
… Continue reading IN ITALY THE FIRST ANALYSIS CARRIED OUT BY IL SALVAGENTE FIND MICROPLASTICS IN INDUSTRIAL SOFT DRINK on ilsalvagente.