Ecotoxicological and health implications of microplastic-associated biofilms: a recent review and prospect for turning the hazards into benefits


Microplastics (MPs), over the years, have been regarded as a severe environmental nuisance with adverse effects on our ecosystem as well as human health globally. In recent times, microplastics have been reported to support biofouling by genetically diverse organisms resulting in the formation of biofilms. Biofilms, however, could result in changes in the physicochemical properties of microplastics, such as their buoyancy and roughness. Many scholars perceived the microplastic-biofilm association as having more severe consequences, providing evidence of its effects on the environment, aquatic life, and nutrient cycles. Furthermore, other researchers have shown that microplastic-associated biofilms have severe consequences on human health as they serve as vectors of heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and antibiotic resistance genes. Despite what is already known about their adverse effects, other interesting avenues are yet to be fully explored or developed to turn the perceived negative microplastic-biofilm association to our advantage. The major inclusion criteria for relevant literature were that it must focus on microplastic association biofilms, while we excluded papers solely on biofilms or microplastics. A total of 242 scientific records were obtained. More than 90% focused on explaining the environmental and health impacts of microplastic-biofilm association, whereas only very few studies have reported the possibilities and opportunities in turning the microplastic biofilms association into benefits. In summary, this paper concisely reviews the current knowledge of microplastic-associated biofilms and their adverse consequences and further proposes some approaches that can be developed to turn the negative association into positive.

Authors: Emmanuel Sunday Okeke, Timothy Prince Chidike Ezeorba, Yao Chen, Guanghua Mao, Weiwei Feng, Xiangyang Wu
; Full Source: Environmental science and pollution research international 2022 Aug 22. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-22612-w.