Schrank, I; Trotter, B; Dummert, J; Scholz-Böttcher, B M; Löder, MGJ; Laforsch, C: Effects of microplastic particles and leaching additive on the life history and morphology of Daphnia magna, Environmental Pollution, 255 (2019), online: 18.09.2019, doi: [Link]

Plastic waste is continuously introduced not only into marine, but also freshwater environments, where it fragments into microplastics. Organisms may be affected by the particles themselves due to ingestion and indirectly via incorporated additives such as plasticizers, since these substances have the ability to leach out of the polymer matrix. Although it has been indicated that the likelihood of additives leaching out into the gut lumen of organisms exposed to microplastics is low, studies distinguishing between the effects of the synthetic polymer itself and incorporated additives of the same polymer are scarce. Since this is obligatory for risk assessment, we analyzed the chronic effects of flexible polyvinylchloride (PVC), a widely used polymer, containing the plasticizer diisononylphthalate (DiNP) on morphology and life history of the freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna and compared these effects with the effects of rigid PVC, lacking DiNP, as well as a glass bead control. After up to 31 days of exposure, rigid PVC and glass beads did not affect body length and relative tail spine length of D. magna, whereas flexible PVC led to an increased body length and a reduced number of offspring. None of the treatments increased the mortality significantly. We were able to show that 2.67μg/L DiNP leached out of the flexible PVC into the surrounding medium using GC-MS. Yet, we were not able to measure leachate inside the gut lumen of D. magna. The effects emerged towards the end of the experiment, due to the time dependent process of leaching. Therefore, the results highlight the relevance of long-term chronic exposure experiments, especially as leaching of additives takes time. Further, our study shows the importance to distinguish between microplastics containing leachable additives and the raw polymer in ecotoxicological testing.

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