Below, you can find the articles related to the fate and potential impact of microplastics in the environment that have been published by this group of researchers.
A probabilistic risk assessment of microplastics in soil ecosystems
Jacques O & Prosser RS. 2021. Science of the Total Environment, 757:143987
Plastics have a variety of applications due to their versatility, relative cost, and strength-to-weight ratio, and re- sistance to degradation. As a result, plastic waste can be found in all corners of the Earth. A class of plastic contam- inants that have received increasing attention in terms of their potential impact on ecosystems is microplastics (≤5 mm). The greatest attention to date has been on their potential effect in marine ecosystems. However, a growing number of studies are examining their potential impact on soil ecosystems. The data reported in the lit- erature on the environmentally-relevant concentrations of microplastics in soils and the concentration of microplastics that causes an adverse effect in soil biota were used to perform a probabilistic risk assessment of microplastics to soil biota. An environmental exposure distribution was constructed from the concentrations of microplastics reported in soil in the literature. Species sensitivity distributions were constructed using concentra- tion of microplastics in soil that had no adverse effect on soil species (NOEC) or the lowest concentrations that had an adverse effect on soil species (LOEC) reported in the literature. The 95th centile of the environmental ex- posure distribution (8147 microplastic particles per gram of soil) was greater than 22 and 28% of the species sen- sitivity distribution constructed using NOECs and LOECs, respectively. The assessment concluded that environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastics reported in the literature could pose a considerable risk to soil biota. It is also important to note that due to the continued production of large quantities of plastic and the persistence of microplastics in the environment, environmentally-relevant concentrations of microplastics in soil are likely to only rise.
Investigation of Microplastics in Freshwater Mussels (Lasmigona costata) From the Grand River Watershed in Ontario, Canada
Wardlaw C & Prosser RS. 2020. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 231:405
Microplastics have been identified as a widespread, persistent environmental pollutant. The investigation of microplastics in marine ecosystems has been prevalent in the literature; however, much less consideration has been given to this form of pollution in freshwater ecosystems. Relatively few studies have considered the uptake of microplastics in freshwater mussels. This study investigated the presence of microplastics in fluted-shell mussels (Lasmigona costata) collected from various sites in the Grand River watershed, Southern Ontario’s largest watershed and home to one million people. The soft tissue of adult mussels underwent enzyme digestion, followed by filtration to isolate undigested particles. Particles were removed and analyzed using Raman spectroscopy to determine their composition. Ten different polymers were identified in the sampled mussels, with polypropylene-co-polyethylene being the most prevalent. Microplastic particles were detected in 71% of mussels with the greatest number of particles observed in a single mussel being seven. No significant difference in microplastic particles per mussel was observed among the different sites sampled. A significant positive relationship between particles per mussel and size of upstream catchment was observed, but a relationship between particles per mussel and percentage of urban land use was not observed.