Resolving the effects of environmental micro- and nanoplastics exposure in biota: A knowledge gap analysis.

Published on Aug 1, 2021in Science of The Total Environment7.963
· DOI :10.1016/J.SCITOTENV.2021.146534
Philippe J. Thomas14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Carleton University),
Genevieve A. Perono3
Estimated H-index: 3
(McMaster University)
+ 7 AuthorsDaniel Mark Lyons18
Estimated H-index: 18
Abstract The pervasive spread of microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) has raised significant concerns on their toxicity in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. These polymer-based materials have implications for plants, wildlife and human health, threatening food chain integrity and ultimate ecosystem resilience. An extensive – and growing – body of literature is available on MP- and NP-associated effects, including in a number of aquatic biota, with as yet limited reports in terrestrial environments. Effects range from no detectable, or very low level, biological effects to more severe outcomes such as (but not limited to) increased mortality rates, altered immune and inflammatory responses, oxidative stress, genetic damage and dysmetabolic changes. A well-established exposure route to MPs and NPs involves ingestion with subsequent incorporation into tissues. MP and NP exposures have also been found to lead to genetic damage, including effects related to mitotic anomalies, or to transmissible damage from sperm cells to their offspring, especially in echinoderms. Effects on the proteome, transcriptome and metabolome warrant ad hoc investigations as these integrated “omics” workflows could provide greater insight into molecular pathways of effect. Given their different physical structures, chemical identity and presumably different modes of action, exposure to different types of MPs and NPs may result in different biological effects in biota, thus comparative investigations of different MPs and NPs are required to ascertain the respective effects. Furthermore, research on MP and NP should also consider their ability to act as vectors for other toxicants, and possible outcomes of exposure may even include effects at the community level, thus requiring investigations in mesocosm models.
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