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Evidence of Microplastic Translocation in Wild-Caught Fish and Implications for Microplastic Accumulation Dynamics in Food Webs
Environmental Science & Technology  (IF9.028),  Pub Date : 2021-09-09, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c02922
Hayley K. McIlwraith, Joel Kim, Paul Helm, Satyendra P. Bhavsar, Jeremy S. Metzger, Chelsea M. Rochman

The presence of microplastics within the gut of animals is well documented. Whether microplastics bioaccumulate in organisms and biomagnify in food webs remains unclear and relies on the ability of microplastics to translocate to other tissues. Here, we demonstrate the widespread presence of microplastics and other anthropogenic microparticles in the gastrointestinal tract, fillet, and livers of seven species of sportfish from Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Larger fish had a higher microplastic load compared to smaller fish, but the opposite trend was observed with translocated microplastics standardized by fish mass (i.e., smaller fish contained more translocated particles per gram wet weight than larger fish). Moreover, we observed no evidence of biomagnification as there was no significant relationship between the trophic level and total or translocated microplastics per individual. Overall, this suggests that microplastics are translocating, but that excretion of translocated particles or growth dilution may be occurring rather than bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Moreover, the assemblages of shapes and material types varied among tissues, suggesting that particle characteristics may predict biological fate. Our findings highlight the need for further work to understand the mechanisms of microplastic translocation and excretion and the implications for the dynamics of microplastics accumulation in food webs and human exposure.