The environmental impacts of plastic pollution have recently attracted universal attention, especially in the aquatic environment. However, research has mostly been focused on marine ecosystems, even though freshwater ecosystems are equally if not more polluted by plastics. In addition, the mechanism and extent to which plastic pollution affects aquatic biota and the rates of transfer to organisms through food webs eventually reaching humans are poorly understood, especially considering leaching hazardous chemicals. Several studies have demonstrated extreme toxicity in freshwater organisms such Daphnia. When such keystone species are affected by ambient pollution, entire food webs are destabilized and biodiversity is threatened. The unremitting increase in plastic contaminants in freshwater environments would cause impairments in ecosystem functions and structure, leading to various kinds of negative ecological consequences. As various studies have reported the effects on daphnids, a consolidation of this literature is critical to discuss the limitations and knowledge gaps and to evaluate the risk posed to the aquatic environment. This review was undertaken due to the evident need to evaluate this threat. The aims were to provide a meaningful overview of the literature relevant to the potential impact of plastic pollution and associated contaminants on freshwater daphnids as primary consumers. A critical evaluation of research gaps and perspectives is conducted to provide a comprehensive risk assessment of microplastic as a hazard to aquatic environments. We outlined the challenges and limitations to microplastic research in hampering better-focused investigations that could support the development of new plastic materials and/or establishment of new regulations.
Authors: Afshin Samadi, Youngsam Kim, Sang-Ah Lee, Young Jun Kim, Maranda Esterhuizen
; Full Source: Environmental toxicology 2022 Jul 30. doi: 10.1002/tox.23623.