What is it about?

Research on microplastic effects in aquatic environments has expanded dramatically in the last decade. However, many important questions remain largely unanswered. We still do not know, for example, what are the safe levels of microplastic in different ecosystems. This kind of information is vital for the regulation of microplastic as a pollutant. What makes this situation even more challenging is that we have a very unsettled methodology to evaluate the toxicity of solid waste, such as plastic litter.

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Why is it important?

We presented a novel approach for testing the hazard potential of solid waste particles, including microplastic. Natural lake or seawater always contain small particles, both mineral and organic, in the same size range as the microplastic. However, relative to the amount of these particles, the quantities of microplastic are low. At high levels, the naturally occurring particles, such as clay, can be harmful to various animals, from water fleas to fish, in ways similar to microplastic.


To disentangle responses to microplastic exposure from those to other suspended solids, both microplastic and natural particles must be present in the test system. We believe that more ecologically relevant test methods are needed for understanding how and when microplastic becomes a hazard.

Elena Gorokhova
Stockholm University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A novel method for assessing microplastic effect in suspension through mixing test and reference materials, Scientific Reports, July 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-47160-1.
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