Extraction, identification, and environmental risk assessment of microplastics in commercial toothpaste

Chemosphere. 2022 Jun:296:133976. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.133976. Epub 2022 Feb 14.

Abstract

Microplastics in personal care and food products are given much importance globally due to the adverse impact of microplastics on living beings. In the present study, microplastics from ten different commercially sold toothpaste in India were extracted by vacuum filtration and characterized with microscopic and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopic analyses. Results revealed that colorless fragments and fibers were the microparticle types of common occurrence which ranged from 0.2 to 0.9% weight in the toothpaste with an abundance range of 32.7-83.2%. Fifty percent of the toothpaste samples showed more than 50% microplastic particle abundance indicating that the microplastic plastic particles were added by the manufacturers. The minimum size of microplastics recorded in the present study was 3.5 μm with a maximum size exceeding 400 μm. The maximum number of microplastics in the toothpaste was 167, 508 and 193 respectively, distributed in the size range of <100 μm, 100-400 μm, and >400 μm. The present study recorded four major polymer types, viz., cellophane, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyamide in the toothpaste samples. Surprisingly, polyethylene-a common polymer reported in toothpaste was not traced in the present samples. Regarding the Indian context, the current study is a new addition to the knowledge of the occurrence of microplastics in toothpaste. The average annual addition of microplastics into the environment through toothpaste was calculated as 1.4 billion g/year for India, posing a significant threat to the environment.

Keywords: Cellophane; Microplastics; Polyethylene; Risk assessment; Toothpaste.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Microplastics*
  • Plastics / chemistry
  • Polymers
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toothpastes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis

Substances

  • Microplastics
  • Plastics
  • Polymers
  • Toothpastes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical