Extruded polystyrene microplastics as a source of brominated flame retardant additives in the marine environment: long-term field and laboratory experiments


Microplastics (MPs) in the environment have become a global concern, not only for the physical effects of the plastic particles themselves but also for being vectors of chemical additives. In this context, little is known about the ability of MPs, particularly extruded polystyrene microplastics (XPS-MPs), to release organic chemical additives in the marine environment. In this study, a series of field and laboratory experiments were carried out to determine the leaching behaviour of organic additives including brominated flame retardants from XPS-MPs into seawater. The conducted experiments confirmed a rapid release of bisphenol A (BPA), 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP), tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane diastereoisomers (α-, β-, and γ-HBCDD) from the studied MPs followed by a slower rate of release over time. The effects of environmental factors on the leaching rates of these additives were also examined. Increasing Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) concentrations and the temperature of the seawater enhanced the release of additives by increasing their solubility and polymer flexibility. In contrast, pH tested at 7, 7.5 and 8 was found to have a minor effect on additives leaching; and salinity negatively affected the leaching rate likely due to their reduced solubility and reduced diffusion from the MPs. The present study provides empirical evidence of the behaviour of XPS-MPs as a source of organic additives in the marine environment that merit further investigation.

Authors: Badreddine Barhoumi, Marc Metian, François Oberhaensli, Nikolaos Mourgkogiannis, Hrissi K Karapanagioti, Philippe Bersuder, Imma Tolosa
; Full Source: Environment international 2023 Feb 4;172:107797. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2023.107797.