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Accumulation and release of organic pollutants by conventional and biodegradable microplastics in the marine environment
Catarci Carteny, C.; Amato, E.D.; Pfeiffer, F.; Christia, C.; Estoppey, N.; Poma, G.; Covaci, A.; Blust, R. (2023). Accumulation and release of organic pollutants by conventional and biodegradable microplastics in the marine environment. Environm. Sc. & Poll. Res. 30(31): 77819-77829.
In: Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0944-1344; e-ISSN 1614-7499, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Catarci Carteny, C., more
  • Amato, E.D., more
  • Pfeiffer, F.
  • Christia, C., more
  • Estoppey, N.
  • Poma, G., more
  • Covaci, A., more
  • Blust, R., more

    The issue of microplastic (MP) litter in the aquatic environment and its capability of accumulating and/or releasing pollutants has been brought to light in recent years. Biodegradable plastics have been proposed as one of the different solutions to decrease environmental input of discarded plastics; however, their ability to accumulate and release pollutants once in the marine environment has not been assessed yet. In this study, we compare the accumulation and the release of a wide range of compounds by biodegradable (polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and polybutylene succinate (PBS)) and conventional (polyethylene (PE)) MPs following exposure to natural seawater for 64 days. We quantified polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organophosphorus flame retardants (PFRs), phthalates, and alternative plasticizers in MPs, before and after exposure. Results indicated that PBS- and PHA-MPs accumulated the largest amount of PAHs and PFRs, respectively. Leaching of PFRs and plasticizers was observed for all polymers and was approximately twofold greater for PE- when compared to PBS- and PHA-MPs. Overall, our study suggests that biodegradable MPs may release less additives and accumulate a larger amount of contaminants from seawater compared to conventional ones: these findings may have implications on the risk assessment of biodegradable polymers for marine biota; and on potential widespread adoption of these types of plastics.

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