Microplastics – small pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters in length – are ubiquitous in the environment and can have significant effects on wildlife. A new study published in Environmental toxicology and chemistry reveals that different microplastics have multiple impacts – of varying sizes, shapes and chemical compositions – on the survival, growth and development of fathead minnows, an important prey species in lakes and rivers of ‘North America.
By demonstrating that microplastics are both physical and chemical stressors, the study supports the need for research that views microplastics as a multiple stressor rather than a single contaminant. It is important to note that the current test methods used in most studies of microplastics do not sufficiently examine the chemical dimension of microplastic pollution.
“The chemical cocktail associated with microplastics in the environment consists of additives from manufacturing and contaminants sorbed into the surrounding environment; however, this dimension is often missing from toxicity tests, where virgin microplastics purchased from a manufacturer are often used, “said the corresponding author. Kennedy Bucci, doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto. “Our research shows that the chemical cocktail is an important driver of effects, and suggests that a new risk assessment framework that captures the multidimensionality of microplastic pollution may be needed.
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- Kennedy Bucci, Jacqueline Bikker, Kathleen Stevack, Trudy Watson – Leung, Chelsea Rochman. Impacts on bighead larvae vary between pre-consumer and environmental microplastics. Environmental toxicology and chemistry, 2021 DOI: 10.1002 / etc 5036
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Wiley. “Complexity of microplastic pollution”. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, April 21, 2021.
Wiley. (2021, April 21). Complexity of microplastic pollution. Daily Science. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210421082855.htm
Wiley. “Complexity of microplastic pollution”. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210421082855.htm (accessed April 21, 2021).