MP2: Toxicity effect of micro-plastic and micro-pollutants in human cells

, Rubin Andrey Ethan, Sarkar Amit Kumar, Zucker Ines.

Presence of microplastic in the environment is increasingly being reported in natural and artificial water sources, soil, and even air. Plastic particles are detected everywhere, from North Pole snowflakes and deep sea near Japan to indoor environments of our offices and homes. Estimations show that by 2050, the total volume of plastic waste in the oceans will be greater than volume of the aquatic species themselves. Plastic particles can be divided to primary microplastics synthesized in a microscale range to various applications and secondary microplastics which are bulk plastic products degraded into small microparticles. The presence of primary and secondary microplastic in the aquatic environment poses risks to the environment and human health. Particularly, oral consumption of microplastic-containing in food and water by humans is a major potential throughput of microplastic into human body, suggesting gut epithelial cells as a primary target for their successful integration. Recent research focus is also given to the potential of microplastics to adsorb hydrophobic organic and inorganic micropollutants (e.g., pesticides, drugs, heavy metals). Thus, microplastics may act as vectors to aquatic pollutants into the human body. Our research focuses on the potential synergetic toxicity of microplastics and micropollutants. We conducted a set of adsorption tests using primary polystyrene microplastics with varying physicochemical properties and a commonly use pesticide (Triclosan) under environmentally - relevant conditions. Our results show that the microplastic surface functionality is a major factor which drives the adsorption. Further, we used human epithelial cells to evaluate the toxic effect of microplastics, micropollutants, and their combination. Our results suggest that microplastics act as a potential vector of micropollutants toward human cells, resulting in an increased toxicity due to elevated local concentration effects.

View online