Uptake and effects of microplastic textile fibers on freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna

Jemec A, Horvat P, Kunej U, Bele M, Kržan A
[ site ] Environmental Pollution, 2016

Microplastic fibers (MP) from textile weathering and washing are increasingly being recognized as environmental pollutants. The majority of studies on the bioavailability and effects of microplastic focused on small polystyrene spherical plastic particles, while less data are available for fibers and for other materials besides polystyrene. We investigated the ingestion and effects of ground polyethylene terephthalate (PET) textile microfibers (length range: 62–1400 μm, width 31–528 μm, thickness 1–21.5 μm) on the freshwater zooplankton crustacean Daphnia magna after a 48 h exposure and subsequent 24 h of recovery in MP free medium and algae. The majority of ingested fibers by D. magna were around 300 μm, but also some very large twisted MP fibers around 1400 μm were found inside the gut. Exposure to these fibers results in increased mortality of daphnids after 48 h only in the case where daphnids were not pre-fed with algae prior to experiment, but no effect was found when daphnids were fed before the experiments. Regardless of the feeding regime, daphnids were not able to recover from MP exposure after additional 24 h incubation period in a MP free medium with algae. The uptake and effects of PET textile MP on D. magna are presented here for the first time.