Published February 5, 2024 | Version v1
Publication Open

Exposure protocol for ecotoxicity testing of microplastics and nanoplastics

  • 1. Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
  • 2. Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
  • 3. Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
  • 4. Department of Environmental & Resource Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
  • 5. Department of Environmental & Resource Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.
  • 6. Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland.
  • 7. University of Eastern Finland
  • 8. Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, South Korea
  • 9. State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
  • 10. UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Crowmarsh Gifford, UK
  • 11. SIB Labs, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  • 12. Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 13. Federal Institute of Material Research and Testing (BAM)
  • 14. Department of Plankton and Microbial Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Stechlin, Germany
  • 15. Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany
  • 16. Universiteit Leiden Faculteit der Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen
  • 17. RIVM
  • 18. Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

Description

Despite the increasing concern about the harmful effects of micro-and nanoplastics (MNPs), there are no harmonized guidelines or protocols yet available for MNP ecotoxicity testing. Current ecotoxicity studies often use commercial spherical particles as models for MNPs, but in nature, MNPs occur in variable shapes, sizes and chemical compositions. Moreover, protocols developed for chemicals that dissolve or form stable dispersions are currently used for assessing the ecotoxicity of MNPs. Plastic particles, however, do not dissolve and also show dynamic behavior in the exposure medium, depending on, for example, MNP physicochemical properties and the medium’s conditions such as pH and ionic strength. Here we describe an exposure protocol that considers the particle-specific properties of MNPs and their dynamic behavior in exposure systems. Procedure 1 describes the top-down production of more realistic MNPs as representative of MNPs in nature and particle characterization (e.g., using thermal extraction desorption-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry). Then, we describe exposure system development for short-and long-term toxicity tests for soil (Procedure 2) and aquatic (Procedure 3) organisms. Procedures 2 and 3 explain how to modify existing ecotoxicity guidelines for chemicals to target testing MNPs in selected exposure systems. We show some examples that were used to develop the protocol to test, for example, MNP toxicity in marine rotifers, freshwater mussels, daphnids and earthworms. The present protocol takes between 24h and 2 months,depending on the test of interest and can be applied by students, academics, environmental risk assessors and industries.

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-023-00886-9

Files

Monikh_et_al_2023_NatProtocols_Standardized-Toxicology_Tests_with_MP_NP.pdf

Additional details

Funding

PlasticsFatE – Plastics fate and effects in the human body 965367
European Commission
POLYRISK – POLYRISK - Understanding human exposure and health hazard of micro- and nanoplastic contaminants in our environment 964766
European Commission