Uptake, Whole-Body Distribution, and Depuration of Nanoplastics by the Scallop Pecten maximus at Environmentally Realistic Concentrations

Previous studies of uptake and effects of nanoplastics by marine organisms have been conducted at what may be unrealistically high concentrations. This is a consequence of the analytical challenges in tracking plastic particles in organisms at environmentally relevant concentrations and highlights the need for new approaches. Here, we present pulse exposures of 14C-radiolabeled nanopolystyrene to a commercially important mollusk, Pecten maximus, at what have been predicted to be environmentally relevant concentrations (<15 μg L–1). Uptake was rapid and was greater for 24 nm than for 250 nm particles. After 6 h, autoradiography showed accumulation of 250 nm nanoplastics in the intestine, while 24 nm particles were dispersed throughout the whole-body, possibly indicating some translocation across epithelial membranes. However, depuration was also relatively rapid for both sizes; 24 nm particles were no longer detectable after 14 days, although some 250 nm particles were still detectable after 48 days. Particle size thus apparently influenced the biokinetics and suggests a need for chronic exposure studies. Modeling extrapolations indicated that it could take 300 days of continued environmental exposure for uptake to reach equilibrium in scallop body tissues although the concentrations would still below 2.7 mg g–1. Comparison with previous work in which scallops were exposed to nonplastic (silver) nanomaterials of similar size (20 nm), suggests that nanoparticle composition may also influence the uptake tissue distributions somewhat.