Partitioning of chemical contaminants to microplastics: Sorption mechanisms, environmental distribution and effects on toxicity and bioaccumulation

Paula S. Tourinho, Vladimír Kočí, Susana Loureiro, Cornelis A.M. van Gestel

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

There is an increasing awareness of the threats posed by the worldwide presence of microplastics (MPs) in the environment. Due to their high persistence, MPs will accumulate in the environment and their quantities tend to increase with time. MPs end up in environments where often also chemical contaminants are present. Since the early 2000s, the number of studies on the sorption of chemicals to plastic particles has exponentially increased. The objective of this study was to critically review the literature to identify the most important factors affecting the sorption of chemical contaminants to MPs. These factors include the physicochemical properties of both the MPs and the chemical contaminants as well as environmental characteristics. A limited number of studies on soil together with an increased notion of the importance of this compartment as a final sink for MPs was observed. Therefore, we assessed the distribution of model chemicals (two PCBs and phenanthrene) in the soil compartment in the presence of MPs using a mass balance model. The results showed a high variation among chemicals and microplastic types. Overall, a higher partitioning to MPs of chemical contaminants in soil is expected in comparison to aquatic environments. As sorption to a large extent determines bioavailability, the effects of combined exposure to chemicals and MPs on the toxicity and bioaccumulation in biota are discussed. Finally, some considerations regarding sorption and toxicity studies using MPs are given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1256
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume252
Early online date11 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Fingerprint

Bioaccumulation
Toxicity
Sorption
Impurities
Soil
Soils
Chemical Models
Biota
Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Biological Availability
Plastics
Polychlorinated biphenyls

Keywords

  • Bioavailability
  • Mass balance model
  • Mixture toxicity
  • Sorption

Cite this

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title = "Partitioning of chemical contaminants to microplastics: Sorption mechanisms, environmental distribution and effects on toxicity and bioaccumulation",
abstract = "There is an increasing awareness of the threats posed by the worldwide presence of microplastics (MPs) in the environment. Due to their high persistence, MPs will accumulate in the environment and their quantities tend to increase with time. MPs end up in environments where often also chemical contaminants are present. Since the early 2000s, the number of studies on the sorption of chemicals to plastic particles has exponentially increased. The objective of this study was to critically review the literature to identify the most important factors affecting the sorption of chemical contaminants to MPs. These factors include the physicochemical properties of both the MPs and the chemical contaminants as well as environmental characteristics. A limited number of studies on soil together with an increased notion of the importance of this compartment as a final sink for MPs was observed. Therefore, we assessed the distribution of model chemicals (two PCBs and phenanthrene) in the soil compartment in the presence of MPs using a mass balance model. The results showed a high variation among chemicals and microplastic types. Overall, a higher partitioning to MPs of chemical contaminants in soil is expected in comparison to aquatic environments. As sorption to a large extent determines bioavailability, the effects of combined exposure to chemicals and MPs on the toxicity and bioaccumulation in biota are discussed. Finally, some considerations regarding sorption and toxicity studies using MPs are given.",
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Partitioning of chemical contaminants to microplastics : Sorption mechanisms, environmental distribution and effects on toxicity and bioaccumulation. / Tourinho, Paula S.; Kočí, Vladimír; Loureiro, Susana; van Gestel, Cornelis A.M.

In: Environmental Pollution, Vol. 252, 01.09.2019, p. 1246-1256.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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