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Microplastics in the Food Chain: Food Safety and Environmental Aspects

Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT,volume 259)

Abstract

Plastic has been an incredibly useful and indispensable material in all aspects of human life. Without it many advances in medicine, technology or industry would not have been possible. However, its easy accessibility and low cost have led to global misuse. Basically, the production of the plastics from different chemical agents is very easy but unfortunately difficult to reuse or recycle, and it is thrown away as litter, incinerated or disposed of in landfill. Plastic once in the environment begins to degrade to very small sizes. Thus, many animals mistake them for food, so plastic enters a marine, terrestrial or freshwater food web. These microplastics although chemically inert have been shown to act as tiny “bio-sponges” for harmful chemicals found in the environment changing the nature of a plastic particle from chemically harmless to potentially toxic. It was believed that microparticles would simply pass through the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans with no biological effect. However, studies have shown that they are sometimes taken up and distributed throughout the circulatory and lymphatic system and may be stored in the fatty tissues of different organisms. The result of the uptake of them showed potential carcinogenic effects, liver dysfunction and endocrine disruption. This review focuses on micro- and nanoplastics and their way entering marine and freshwater food webs, with particular attention to microplastic trophic transfer, their toxic side effects and influence to the human consumer in health and safety in the future.

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic activity
  • Aquatic food chain
  • Environmental safety
  • Food safety
  • Freshwater fish
  • Marine fish

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  • DOI: 10.1007/398_2021_77
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Abbreviations

ABS:

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene

BPA:

Bisphenol A

FTIR:

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy

GI:

Gastrointestinal

HBDC:

Hexabromocyclododecane

HDPE:

High-density polyethylene

IPA:

Isophthalic acid

LDPE:

Low density polyethylene

NP:

Nonylphenols

PAH:

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

PCB:

Polychlorinated biphenyls

PDBE:

Polybrominated diphenyl ether

PE:

Polyethylene

POP:

Persistent organic pollutant

PP:

Polypropylene

PPA:

Polyphthalamide

PVC:

Polyvinylchloride

SPI:

Society of Plastic Industry

SUP:

Single-use plastic

TPA:

Terephthalic acid

UN:

United Nations

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Funding/Acknowledgement

This work was supported by the European Union and co-financed by the European Social Fund [grant agreement number EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017-00012, project title: Development of a product chain model for functional, healthy and safe foods from farm to fork based on a thematic research network].

Conflicts of Interest Herewith the authors declare that no actual or potential conflict of interest occurred including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations within 3 years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, our work.

Author Agreement/Declaration All authors have seen and approved the final version of the manuscript being submitted. They warrant that the article is the authors’ original work, it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, and that, if accepted, it will not be published elsewhere in the same form.

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Correspondence to József Lehel .

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Lehel, J., Murphy, S. (2021). Microplastics in the Food Chain: Food Safety and Environmental Aspects. In: de Voogt, P. (eds) Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Volume 259. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, vol 259. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/398_2021_77

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