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Ecotoxic effects of microplastics and contaminated microplastics – Emerging evidence and perspective

journal contribution
posted on 2023-10-19, 04:21 authored by H Kaur, D Rawat, P Poria, U Sharma, Y Gibert, A S Ethayathulla, Ludovic Dumee, R S Sharma, V Mishra
The high prevalence and persistence of microplastics (MPs) in pristine habitats along with their accumulation across environmental compartments globally, has become a matter of grave concern. The resilience conferred to MPs using the material engineering approaches for outperforming other materials has become key to the challenge that they now represent. The characteristics that make MPs hazardous are their micro to nano scale dimensions, surface varied wettability and often hydrophobicity, leading to non-biodegradability. In addition, MPs exhibit a strong tendency to bind to other contaminants along with the ability to sustain extreme chemical conditions thus increasing their residence time in the environment. Adsorption of these co-contaminants leads to modification in toxicity varying from additive, synergistic, and sometimes antagonistic, having consequences on flora, fauna, and ultimately the end of the food chain, human health. The resulting environmental fate and associated risks of MPs, therefore greatly depend upon their complex interactions with the co-contaminants and the nature of the environment in which they reside. Net outcomes of such complex interactions vary with core characteristics of MPs, the properties of co-contaminants and the abiotic factors, and are required to be better understood to minimize the inherent risks. Toxicity assays addressing these concerns should be ecologically relevant, assessing the impacts at different levels of biological organization to develop an environmental perspective. This review analyzed and evaluated 171 studies to present research status on MP toxicity. This analysis supported the identification and development of research gaps and recommended priority areas of research, accounting for disproportionate risks faced by different countries. An ecological perspective is also developed on the environmental toxicity of contaminated MPs in the light of multi-variant stressors and directions are provided to conduct an ecologically relevant risk assessment. The presented analyses will also serve as a foundation for developing environmentally appropriate remediation methods and evaluation frameworks.

History

Journal

Science of the Total Environment

Volume

841

Location

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ISSN

0048-9697

eISSN

1879-1026

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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