Microplastics (MPs) pollution has emerged as one of the world's most serious environmental issues, with harmful consequences for ecosystems and human health. One proposed solution to their accumulation in the environment is the replacement of nondegradable plastics with biodegradable ones. However, due to the lack of true biodegradability in some ecosystems, they also give rise to biodegradable microplastics (BioMPs) that negatively impact different ecosystems and living organisms. This review summarizes the current literature on the impact of BioMPs on some organisms-higher plants and fish-relevant to the food chain. Concerning the higher plants, the adverse effects of BioMPs on seed germination, plant biomass growth, penetration of nutrients through roots, oxidative stress, and changes in soil properties, all leading to reduced agricultural yield, have been critically discussed. Concerning fish, it emerged that BioMPs are more likely to be ingested than nonbiodegradable ones and accumulate in the animal's body, leading to impaired skeletal development, oxidative stress, and behavioral changes. Therefore, based on the reviewed pioneering literature, biodegradable plastics seem to be a new threat to environmental health rather than an effective solution to counteract MP pollution, even if serious knowledge gaps in this field highlight the need for additional rigorous investigations to understand the potential risks associated to BioMPs.

Understanding the Impact of Biodegradable Microplastics on Living Organisms Entering the Food Chain: A Review

Apicella, Annalisa
;
Incarnato, Loredana;Scarfato, Paola
2023-01-01

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) pollution has emerged as one of the world's most serious environmental issues, with harmful consequences for ecosystems and human health. One proposed solution to their accumulation in the environment is the replacement of nondegradable plastics with biodegradable ones. However, due to the lack of true biodegradability in some ecosystems, they also give rise to biodegradable microplastics (BioMPs) that negatively impact different ecosystems and living organisms. This review summarizes the current literature on the impact of BioMPs on some organisms-higher plants and fish-relevant to the food chain. Concerning the higher plants, the adverse effects of BioMPs on seed germination, plant biomass growth, penetration of nutrients through roots, oxidative stress, and changes in soil properties, all leading to reduced agricultural yield, have been critically discussed. Concerning fish, it emerged that BioMPs are more likely to be ingested than nonbiodegradable ones and accumulate in the animal's body, leading to impaired skeletal development, oxidative stress, and behavioral changes. Therefore, based on the reviewed pioneering literature, biodegradable plastics seem to be a new threat to environmental health rather than an effective solution to counteract MP pollution, even if serious knowledge gaps in this field highlight the need for additional rigorous investigations to understand the potential risks associated to BioMPs.
2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4851853
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