Micro- and nanoplastic toxicity on aquatic life: Determining factors
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScience of the Total Environment. 2020, 709 1-16. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.136050
Plastic pollution has become a major environmental concern due to its omnipresence and degradation to smaller particles. The potential toxicological effects of micro- and nanoplastic on biota have been investigated in a growing number of exposure studies. We have performed a comprehensive review of the main determining factors for plastic particle toxicity in the relevant exposure systems, from publications until including the year 2018. For a focused scope, effects of additives or other pollutants accumulated by the plastic particles are not included. In summary, current literature suggests that plastic particle toxicity depends on concentration, particle size, exposure time, particle condition, shape and polymer type. Furthermore, contaminant background, food availability, species, developmental stage and sex have major influence on the outcome of plastic particles exposures. Frequently reported effects were on body and population growth, energy metabolism, feeding, movement activity, physiological stress, oxidative stress, inflammation, the immune system, hormonal regulation, aberrant development, cell death, general toxicity and altered lipid metabolism. Several times reported were increased growth and food consumption, neuro-, liver- or kidney pathology and intestinal damage. Photosynthesis disruption was reported in studies investigating effects on phytoplankton. For the currently unquantified plastic particles below 10 μm, more toxic effects were reported in all aquatic life, as compared to plastic particles of larger size.