John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Microplastics as vectors for bioaccumulation of hydrophobic organic chemicals in the marine environment: A state‐of‐the‐science review

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A state‐of‐the‐science review was conducted to examine the potential for microplastics (MPs) to sorb hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs) from the marine environment, for aquatic organisms to take up these HOCs from the MPs, and for this exposure to result in adverse effects to ecological and human health. Despite concentrations of HOCs associated with MPs that can be orders of magnitude greater than surrounding seawater, the relative importance of MPs as a route of exposure is difficult to quantify because aquatic organisms are typically exposed to HOCs from various compartments, including water, sediment, and food. Results of laboratory experiments and modeling studies indicate that HOCs can partition from MPs to organisms or from organisms to MPs, depending on experimental conditions. Very little information is available to evaluate ecological or human health effects from this exposure. Most of the available studies measured biomarkers that are more indicative of exposure than effects, and no studies showed effects to ecologically relevant endpoints. Therefore, evidence is weak to support the occurrence of ecologically significant adverse effects on aquatic life due to exposure to HOCs sorbed to MPs, or to wildlife populations and humans from secondary exposure via the food chain. More data are needed to fully understand the relative importance of exposure to HOCs from MPs compared to other exposure pathways. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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