Microplastic dispersal behavior in a novel overhead stirring aqueous exposure system
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Using nominal dose metrics to describe exposure conditions in laboratory-based microplastic uptake and effects studies may not adequately represent the true exposure to the organisms in the test system, making data interpretation challenging. In the current study, a novel overhead stirring method using flocculators was assessed for maintaining polystyrene (PS) microbeads (Ø10.4 μm; 1.05 g cm−3) in suspension in seawater during 24 h and then compared with static and rotational exposure setups. Under optimized conditions, the system was able to maintain 59% of the initial PS microbeads in suspension after 24 h, compared to 6% using a static system and 100% using a rotating plankton wheel. Our findings document for the first time that overhead stirring as well as other, commonly used exposure systems (static) are unable to maintain constant microplastic exposure conditions in laboratory setups whereas rotation is very effective. This suggests toxicological studies employing either static or overhead stirring systems may be greatly overestimating the true microplastic exposure conditions.