Long term exposure to virgin and recycled LDPE microplastics induced minor effects in the freshwater and terrestrial crustaceans Daphnia magna and Porcellio scaber

Jemec Kokalj A, Dolar A, Titova J, Visnapuu M, Škrlep L, Drobne D, Vija H, Kisand V, Heinlaan M
[ site ] Polymers, 2021

The effects of microplastics (MP) are extensively studied, yet hazard data from long-term exposure studies are scarce. Moreover, for sustainable circular use in the future, knowledge on the biological impact of recycled plastics is essential. The aim of this study was to provide long-term toxicity data of virgin vs recycled (mechanical recycling) low density polyethylene (LDPE) for two commonly used ecotoxicity models, the freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna and the terrestrial crustacean Porcellio scaber. LDPE MP was tested as fragments of 39.8 ± 8.82 µm (virgin) and 205 ± 144 µm (recycled) at chronic exposure levels of 1–100 mg LDPE/L (D. magna) and 0.2–15 g LDPE/kg soil (P. scaber). Mortality, reproduction, body length, total lipid content, feeding and immune response were evaluated. With the exception of very low inconsistent offspring mortality at 10 mg/L and 100 mg/L of recycled LDPE, no MP exposure-related adverse effects were recorded for D. magna. For P. scaber, increased feeding on non-contaminated leaves was observed for virgin LDPE at 5 g/kg and 15 g/kg. In addition, both LDPE induced a slight immune response at 5 g/kg and 15 g/kg with more parameters altered for virgin LDPE. Our results indicated different sublethal responses upon exposure to recycled compared to virgin LDPE MP