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Review
, 364 (1526), 2047-62

A Critical Analysis of the Biological Impacts of Plasticizers on Wildlife

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Review

A Critical Analysis of the Biological Impacts of Plasticizers on Wildlife

Jörg Oehlmann et al. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci.

Abstract

This review provides a critical analysis of the biological effects of the most widely used plasticizers, including dibutyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate, butyl benzyl phthalate and bisphenol A (BPA), on wildlife, with a focus on annelids (both aquatic and terrestrial), molluscs, crustaceans, insects, fish and amphibians. Moreover, the paper provides novel data on the biological effects of some of these plasticizers in invertebrates, fish and amphibians. Phthalates and BPA have been shown to affect reproduction in all studied animal groups, to impair development in crustaceans and amphibians and to induce genetic aberrations. Molluscs, crustaceans and amphibians appear to be especially sensitive to these compounds, and biological effects are observed at environmentally relevant exposures in the low ng l(-1) to microg l(-1) range. In contrast, most effects in fish (except for disturbance in spermatogenesis) occur at higher concentrations. Most plasticizers appear to act by interfering with the functioning of various hormone systems, but some phthalates have wider pathways of disruption. Effect concentrations of plasticizers in laboratory experiments coincide with measured environmental concentrations, and thus there is a very real potential for effects of these chemicals on some wildlife populations. The most striking gaps in our current knowledge on the impacts of plasticizers on wildlife are the lack of data for long-term exposures to environmentally relevant concentrations and their ecotoxicity when part of complex mixtures. Furthermore, the hazard of plasticizers has been investigated in annelids, molluscs and arthropods only, and given the sensitivity of some invertebrates, effects assessments are warranted in other invertebrate phyla.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Danio rerio. Cumulative number of viable eggs spawned in colonies during a 20 day period prior to BBP exposure and a 20 day period during BBP exposure. Symbols represent average results for two colonies per treatment: filled circle, water control; open circle, solvent control; inverted filled triangle, 0.003 mg l−1 BBP; open triangle, 0.006 mg l−1 BBP; filled square, 0.015 mg l−1 BBP.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Danio rerio. Effects of exposure to BBP for 20 days on sperm quality: (a) the curvilinear velocity, (b) the number of sperm tracked and (c) sperm linearity. Bars represent mean ± SEM and are given for the first four intervals of tracking (i.e. sperm motility): 0–15, 16–30, 31–45 and 46–60 s. Chemical concentrations are measured in the tank water. Data were arcsine transformed before statistical analysis (one-way ANOVA and Tukey's multiple comparison post-test; *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001).

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