Response to comment on “Outside the safe operating space of the planetary boundary for novel entities”.

Persson, L.; Carney Almroth, B.; Collins, C.; Cornell, S.E.; de Wit, C.A.; Diamond, M.L.; Fantke, P.; Hassellöv, M.; MacLeod, M.; Ryberg, M.; Søgaard Jørgensen, P.; Villarrubia-Gómez, P.; Wang, Z.; Hauschild, M.Z.
2022 | Environ. Sci. Technol. | 56 (6788)

Outside the safe operating space of the planetary boundary for novel entities.

Persson, L.; Carney Almroth, B.; Collins, C.; Cornell, S.E.; de Wit, C.A.; Diamond, M.L.; Fantke, P.; Hassellöv, M.; MacLeod, M.; Ryberg, M.; Søgaard Jørgensen, P.; Villarrubia-Gómez, P.; Wang, Z.; Hauschild, M.Z.
2022 | Environ. Sci. Technol. | 56 (1510-1521)

The global threat from plastic pollution

Matthew MacLeod; Hans Peter H. Arp; Mine B. Tekman; Annika Jahnke
2021 | Science, 373 (6550) (61-65)

Plastic pollution accumulating in an area of the environment is considered “poorly reversible” if natural mineralization processes occurring there are slow and engineered remediation solutions are improbable. Should negative outcomes in these areas arise as a consequence of plastic pollution, they will be practically irreversible. Potential impacts from poorly reversible plastic pollution include changes to carbon and nutrient cycles; habitat changes within soils, sediments, and aquatic ecosystems; co-occurring biological impacts on endangered or keystone species; ecotoxicity; and related societal impacts. The rational response to the global threat posed by accumulating and poorly reversible plastic pollution is to rapidly reduce plastic emissions through reductions in consumption of virgin plastic materials, along with internationally coordinated strategies for waste management.

Steady-State Mass Balance Model for Predicting Particle-Gas Concentration Ratios of PBDEs

2021 | Environ. Sci. Technol. | 55 (14) (9425-9433)
air partition-coefficients , aromatic-hydrocarbons pahs , brominated flame retardants , dibenzo-p-dioxins , diphenyl ethers pbdes , equilibration time scales , global air , long range transport , semivolatile organic-chemicals , vapor-pressure
Assuming equilibrium partitioning between the gas and particle phases has been shown to overestimate the fraction of low-volatility chemicals in the particle phase. Here, we present a new steady-state mass balance model that includes separate compartments for fine and coarse aerosols and the gas phase and study its sensitivity to the input parameters. We apply the new model to investigate deviations from equilibrium partitioning by exploring model scenarios for seven generic aerosol scenarios representing different environments and different distributions of emissions as the gas phase, fine aerosol, and coarse aerosol. With 100% of emissions as the particle phase, the particle-gas concentration ratio in our model is similar to the equilibrium model, while differences are up to a factor of 10(6) with 100% of emissions as the gas phase. The particle-gas concentration ratios also depend on the particle size distributions and aerosol loadings in the different environmental scenarios. The new mass balance model can predict the particle-gas concentration ratio with more fidelity to measurements than equilibrium models. However, further laboratory-based evaluations and calibrations of the standard sampling techniques, field investigations with preferably size-resolved measurements of aerosol particle composition, together with the appropriate process modeling for low-volatility chemicals are warranted.

Variability in Toxicity of Plastic Leachates as a Function of Weathering and Polymer Type: A Screening Study with the Copepod Nitocra spinipes

2021 | Biol. Bull. | 240 (3) (191-199)
chemicals , debris , harpacticoid copepod , ingestion , marine-environment , microplastics , persistent organic pollutants , polyethylene , transport , water
The production and use of plastic over many decades has resulted in its accumulation in the world's oceans. Plastic debris poses a range of potential risks to the marine environment and its biota. Especially, the potential hazards of small plastic debris and chemicals associated with plastic have not been extensively studied. When buoyant plastic is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, it will slowly degrade and leach chemicals into surrounding waters. These leachates can include additives, sorbed organic pollutants, and degradation products of the plastic polymers. While most hazard assessments have focused on studying adverse effects due to the uptake of plastic, toxicity studies of the leachates of plastics are less common. To begin to address this knowledge gap, we studied the acute toxicity of leachates from diverse plastics in the harpacticoid copepod Nitocra spinipes. Our results show that leachates caused a higher toxicity after plastic was exposed to ultraviolet light compared to leaching in darkness. We observed differences in toxicity for different polymer types: polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene resulted in the most toxic leachates, while polystyrene and poly[ethylene terephthalate] were least toxic. Furthermore, we observed increased toxicity of leachates from some plastics that had been weathered in the real marine environment compared to matching new materials. Our results indicate that both weathering condition and polymer type influence the toxicity of plastic leachates.

Combining Headspace Solid-Phase Microextraction with Internal Benchmarking to Determine the Elimination Kinetics of Hydrophobic UVCBs

Suhring, R; Sjoholm, KK; Mayer, P; MacLeod, M
2021 | Environ. Sci. Technol. | 55 (16) (11125-11132)
chemical activity , equilibrium sampling , exposure , hs-spme , internal benchmarking , kinetic bcf , mixture analysis , suspect-screening analysis
Substances classified as unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products or biological origin (UVCB) present a challenge for environmental hazard and risk assessment. Here, we present a novel approach for whole-substance bioconcentration testing applied to cedarwood oil-an essential oil composed of volatile, hydrophobic organic chemicals. The method yields whole-body elimination rate constants for a mixture of constituents. Our approach combines in vivo dietary fish exposure with internal benchmarking and headspace solid-phase micro-extraction (HS-SPME) equilibrium sampling followed by suspect-screening analysis. We quantified depuration rate constants of 13 individual cedarwood oil constituents based on relative peak areas using gas chromatography (GC) coupled with Orbitrap-mass spectrometry (MS) and GC triple-quadrupole (QqQ)-MS. For seven constituents with available analytical standards, we compared the rate constants to the results obtained from solvent extraction, clean-up, and targeted GC-MS analysis. The HS-SPME sampling approach allowed for automated sample extraction and analyte enrichment while minimizing evaporative losses of the volatile target analytes and reducing matrix interferences from low-volatility organics. The suspect-screening analysis enabled the quantification of constituents without available analytical standards, while the internal benchmarking significantly reduced variability from differences in delivered dose and analytical variability between the samples.

Weathering Plastics as a Planetary Boundary Threat: Exposure, Fate, and Hazards

Arp, HPH; Kuhnel, D; Rummel, C; MacLeod, M; Potthoff, A; Reichelt, S; Rojo-Nieto, E; Schmitt-Jansen, M; Sonnenberg, J; Toorman, E; Jahnke, A
2021 | Environ. Sci. Technol. | 55 (11) (7246-7255)
debris , degradation , density polyethylene , environmental plastics , environments , exposure , fate , fragmentation , hazards , marine , microplastic particles , planetary boundary threat , polystyrene , transport , water , weathering
We described in 2017 how weathering plastic litter in the marine environment fulfils two of three criteria to impose a planetary boundary threat related to "chemical pollution and the release of novel entities": (1) planetary-scale exposure, which (2) is not readily reversible. Whether marine plastics meet the third criterion, (3) eliciting a disruptive impact on vital earth system processes, was uncertain. Since then, several important discoveries have been made to motivate a re-evaluation. A key issue is if weathering macroplastics, microplastics, nanoplastics, and their leachates have an inherently higher potential to elicit adverse effects than natural particles of the same size. We summarize novel findings related to weathering plastic in the context of the planetary boundary threat criteria that demonstrate (1) increasing exposure, (2) fate processes leading to poorly reversible pollution, and (3) (eco)toxicological hazards and their thresholds. We provide evidence that the third criterion could be fulfilled for weathering plastics in sensitive environments and therefore conclude that weathering plastics pose a planetary boundary threat. We suggest future research priorities to better understand (eco)toxicological hazards modulated by increasing exposure and continuous weathering processes, to better parametrize the planetary boundary threshold for plastic pollution.

Overview: Integrative and Comprehensive Understanding on Polar Environments (iCUPE) – concept and initial results

Petaja, T; Duplissy, EM; Tabakova, K; Schmale, J; Altstadter, B; Ancellet, G; Arshinov, M; Balin, Y; Baltensperger, U; Bange, J; Beamish, A; Belan, B; Berchet, A; Bossi, R; Cairns, WRL; Ebinghaus, R; El Haddad, I; Ferreira-Araujo, B; Franck, A; Huang, L; Hyvarinen, A; Humbert, A; Kalogridis, AC; Konstantinov, P; Lampert, A; MacLeod, M; Magand, O; Mahura, A; Marelle, L; Masloboev, V; Moisseev, D; Moschos, V; Neckel, N; Onishi, T; Osterwalder, S; Ovaska, A; Paasonen, P; Panchenko, M; Pankratov, F; Pernov, JB; Platis, A; Popovicheva, O; Raut, JC; Riandet, A; Sachs, T; Salvatori, R; Salzano, R; Schroder, L; Schon, M; Shevchenko, V; Skov, H; Sonke, JE; Spolaor, A; Stathopoulos, VK; Strahlendorff, M; Thomas, JL; Vitale, V; Vratolis, S; Barbante, C; Chabrillat, S; Dommergue, A; Eleftheriadis, K; Heilimo, J; Law, KS; Massling, A; Noe, SM; Paris, JD; Prevot, ASH; Riipinen, I; Wehner, B; Xie, ZY; Lappalainen, HK
2020 | Atmos. Chem. Phys. | 20 (14) (8551-8592)
The role of polar regions is increasing in terms of megatrends such as globalization, new transport routes, demography, and the use of natural resources with consequent effects on regional and transported pollutant concentrations. We set up the ERA-PLANET Strand 4 project "iCUPE - integrative and Comprehensive Understanding on Polar Environments" to provide novel insights and observational data on global grand challenges with an Arctic focus. We utilize an integrated approach combining in situ observations, satellite remote sensing Earth observations (EOs), and multi-scale modeling to synthesize data from comprehensive long-term measurements, intensive campaigns, and satellites to deliver data products, metrics, and indicators to stakeholders concerning the environmental status, availability, and extraction of natural resources in the polar areas. The iCUPE work consists of thematic state-of-the-art research and the provision of novel data in atmospheric pollution, local sources and transboundary transport, the characterization of arctic surfaces and their changes, an assessment of the concentrations and impacts of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants and their cycling, the quantification of emissions from natural resource extraction, and the validation and optimization of satellite Earth observation (EO) data streams. In this paper we introduce the iCUPE project and summarize initial results arising out of the integration of comprehensive in situ observations, satellite remote sensing, and multi-scale modeling in the Arctic context.

Prospects for finding Junge variability-lifetime relationships for micropollutants in the Danube river

Coll, C.; Lindim, C.; Sobek, A.; Sohn, M.D.; MacLeod, M.
2019 | Environ. Sci.-Process Impacts

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as sentinels for the elucidation of Arctic environmental change processes: a comprehensive review combined with ArcRisk project results

Carlsson, P.; Breivik, K.; Brorström-Lundén, E.; Cousins, I.T.; Christensen, J.; Grimalt, J.O.; Halsall, C.; Kallenborn, R.; Abass, K.; Lammel, G.; Munthe, J.; MacLeod, M.; Øyvind, J-O.; Pawlak, J.; Rautio, A.; Reiersen, L-O., Schlabach, M.; Stemmler, I.; Wilson, S.; Wöhrnschimmel, H.
2018 | Environ Sci Pollut Res | 25 (23) (22499-22528)

In Silico Screening-Level Prioritization of 8468 Chemicals Produced in OECD Countries to Identify Potential Planetary Boundary Threats

Reppas-Chrysovitsinos, E.; Sobek, A.; MacLeod, M.
2018 | Bull Environ Contam Toxicol (134-146)

Screening-level Exposure-based Prioritization to Identify Potential POPs, vPvBs and Planetary Boundary Threats among Arctic Contaminants

Reppas-Chrysovitsinos, E.; Sobek, A.; MacLeod, M.
2017 | Emerging Contaminants | 3 (85-94)

Contact information

Visiting addresses:

Geovetenskapens Hus,
Svante Arrhenius väg 8, Stockholm

Arrheniuslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16, Stockholm (Unit for Toxicological Chemistry)

Mailing address:
Department of Environmental Science
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm

Press enquiries should be directed to:

Stella Papadopoulou
Science Communicator
Phone +46 (0)8 674 70 11