Microplastics Reduce Short-Term Effects of Environmental Contaminants. Part I: Effects of Bisphenol A on Freshwater Zooplankton Are Lower in Presence of Polyamide Particles

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Feb 6;15(2):280. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15020280.


Abstract: Microplastics can have direct physical effects on organisms in freshwater systems, and are considered as vectors for absorbed environmental pollutants. It is still under discussion if microplastics are relevant pollutant vectors for uptake into aquatic organisms in comparison to further uptake pathways, e.g., via water or sediment particles. We analyzed how the presence of microplastics (polyamide particles, PA) modifies acute effects of the environmental pollutant bisphenol A (BPA) on freshwater zooplankton (Daphnia magna). Daphnids were exposed to PA particles and BPA alone, before combining them in the next step with one concentration of PA and varying concentrations of BPA. The PA particles themselves did not induce negative effects, while the effects of BPA alone followed a typical dose-dependent manner. Sorption of BPA to PA particles prior to exposure led to a reduction of BPA in the aqueous phase. The combination of BPA and PA led to decreased immobilization, although PA particles loaded with BPA were ingested by the daphnids. Calculations based on physiochemistry and equilibrium assumptions indicated lower BPA body burden of daphnids in the presence of PA particles. These results confirm model-based studies, and show that investigated microplastic concentrations are negligible for the overall pollutant uptake of daphnids with water as additional uptake pathway.

Keywords: acute toxicity; bisphenol A; freshwater zooplankton; microplastics; polyamide; vector effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / toxicity*
  • Daphnia / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fresh Water
  • Nylons / chemistry*
  • Phenols / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / adverse effects
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / prevention & control*
  • Zooplankton / drug effects*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Nylons
  • Phenols
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • bisphenol A