Towards understanding the impact of plastics on freshwater and marine microalgae: A review of the mechanisms and toxicity endpoints


Plastics are ubiquitous and persistent in aquatic environments, threatening environmental and human health. This review focused on the effects of plastics (single toxicity) and associated chemicals (combined or leachate toxicities) on freshwater and marine microalgae. Forty-seven publications from 2010 to 2020 were used in this review. Based on their topic of focus, we classified the publications among the following categories: single plastic toxicity, combined toxicity of plastics and other chemicals, and toxicity of leachates released from plastics. The test species Chlorophyta and Ochrophyta were generally used to assess the impacts of plastics on aquatic microalgae. This study identified the inhibition of algal growth and photosynthesis due to single toxicity through the physical adsorption of plastics, showing that leachates released from plastics contained non-specific chemicals which could potentially affect microalgae. Production of malondialdehyde or reactive oxygen species presented significant effects on algae independent of the experimental conditions. This review could improve our understanding of the effects of plastic pollution on microalgae in freshwater and marine environments. It has implications for further research in this field and associated water management in light of the global ubiquity of plastic pollution.

Authors: Sun-Hwa Nam, Jieun Lee, Youn-Joo An
; Full Source: Journal of hazardous materials 2022 Feb 5;423(Pt B):127174. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127174.