Are your shoes safe for the environment? – Toxicity screening of leachates from microplastic fragments of shoe soles using freshwater organisms


This study investigated the toxic effects of leachates from microplastic fragments of soles from four different types of shoes (slippers, trekking shoes, running shoes, and sneakers) on three aquatic organisms (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Daphnia magna, and Danio rerio). The chemical components in each leachate were identified; furthermore, chlorophyll a contents of C. reinhardtii were measured, and immobilization of D. magna and deformities in D. rerio were observed. The abnormalities observed in the test species exposed to the leachates were compared and chemical compounds majorly influencing the species were determined by principal component analysis (PCA). Sneaker leachate showed growth inhibitions in C. reinhardtii, immobility and mortality in D. magna, and severe abnormalities in D. rerio. Consequently, aquatic toxicity was majorly associated with benzothiazole, carbon disulfide, ethyl acetate, and p-xylene. The results showed that toxic chemicals could leach from load-originated microplastics when exposed to aquatic media, and consequently, induce significant negative effects on aquatic organisms. Since microplastics from shoe soles discharge the above-mentioned toxic chemicals, regulating the chemical use during plastic production is critical to prevent severe effects of microplastic toxicity in aquatic organisms, and to maintain the health of aquatic environments.

Authors: Lia Kim, Dokyung Kim, Sang A Kim, Haemi Kim, Tae-Yang Lee, Youn-Joo An
; Full Source: Journal of hazardous materials 2021 Jul 29;421:126779. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.126779.