Impacts of MicroPlastics in Agrosystems and Stream Environments


The main objective of the IMPASSE (Impacts of MicroPlastics in Agrosystems and Stream Environments) project is to assess the risk of environmental contamination with MPs in agroecosystems and nearby aquatic ecosystems, and to provide solutions capable of promoting agricultural sustainability and economic development, protecting the environment and human health.

The IMPASSE project is formed by a consortium coordinated by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agriculture, the Vrije University of Amsterdam, the University of Trent (Canada), and IMDEA Water. It is funded by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (refence PCIN-2017-016/AEI) and framed within the Joint Programming Initiatives of the European Research Area JPI – Water.

From the project description:

"Microplastics (MPs) are generally defined as plastic particles which are less than 5 mm in size. The problem of MPs pollution in the oceans is widely known, but the problem is not limited to the marine environment, it also affects other ecosystems. There is evidence showing that each year, in North America, farmed soils are exposed to up to 300,000 tonnes of MPs. [...] This is especially alarming given that plastic polymers can contain toxic compounds and endocrine disrupting substances. Effectively, sewage sludge application may be causing persistent, pernicious and almost totally ignored contamination of agricultural land. [...]The situation is expected to be similar all over the world, at least in developed countries. A primary source of MPs to agrosystems is thought to be biosolids, grey waters and sludge, which are used as fertilizers. Plastic polymers can attach toxic compounds and endocrine-disrupting substances, so it is important to know the persistence and environmental fate of these MPs, as well as their impact on neighbouring terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and on human health."

For further information visit the IMPASSE Project Interactive Website.

Industry Cites 3M Research on Cancer Patients Exposed to PFOA to Claim the Chemical Isn’t So Bad

by Sharon Lerner
August 12 2019, 9:45 a.m.


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Defenders of the chemicals known as PFAS have seized upon an industry-funded study of cancer patients as evidence that PFOA, the compound used to make Teflon, firefighting foam, and many other products, isn’t as dangerous as it seems.

The study, which was funded by the Minnesota-based global conglomerate 3M and published in February 2018 in the journal Toxicological Sciences, was based on a clinical trial conducted by the company CXR Biosciences, in which 49 terminal cancer patients were exposed to high doses of PFOA. Now recognized as a widespread water contaminant, PFOA was originally developed by 3M.

The authors of the study, who include a 3M staff scientist and two University of Minnesota faculty members who received research grants from the company, as well as two of the authors of a 2010 abstract summarizing the original clinical trial, initially describe its purpose as assessing the chemotherapeutic potential of PFOA. Yet the paper contains little mention of how the chemical affected patients’ cancers and instead focuses on their cholesterol levels, which appeared to decrease slightly over a six-week trial period. (Since the study’s publication, one of its authors, Matteo Convertino, left the institution.)

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TOXIC PFAS CHEMICALS FOUND IN MAINE FARMS FERTILIZED WITH SEWAGE SLUDGE

by Sharon Lerner
June 7 2019, 5:57 a.m.

ALL SEWAGE SLUDGE recently tested by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was contaminated with PFAS chemicals, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The state tested the sludge, solid waste that remains after the treatment of domestic and industrial water, for the presence of three “forever chemicals”: PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS. Of 44 samples taken from Maine farms and other facilities that distribute compost made from the sludge, all contained at least one of the PFAS chemicals. In all but two of the samples, the chemicals exceeded safety thresholds for sludge that Maine set early last year.

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Scientists say microplastics are all over farmlands, but we're ignoring the problem


Focus on the impacts of microplastics has almost entirely been on the world's oceans, but researchers say an even bigger problem could be hiding under our feet.

Key points:

  • Between 107,000-730,000 tonnes of microplastic are added to European and North American farmlands each year
  • In 2017, Australia produced 327,000 tonnes of dry biosolids containing microplastics and 75 per cent of it was used in agriculture
  • Researchers say there is a lack of public awareness and scientific understanding of the issue

Microplastics are particles smaller than five millimetres. About 800,000 to 2.5 million tonnes of these tiny pieces of plastic are estimated to end up in oceans each year, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

However, not much is known about the damage these particles cause to landscapes as they make their way to the sea. Agricultural lands are likely to be the most plastic-contaminated places outside of landfill and urban spaces, according to research published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The plastics find their way into agricultural soils through recycled wastewater and rubbish. Between 107,000-730,000 tonnes of microplastic are added to European and North American farmlands each year, according to researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Water Research.

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Wisconsin case shows how sewage plants spread unregulated toxins across landscape

STEVEN VERBURG sverburg@madison.com Jan 27, 2019

As Wisconsin discovers more PFAS contamination it will decide whether to follow the lead of Michigan and investigate the role of wastewater treatment plants in spreading the indestructible, toxic compounds across the landscape. Above, equipment used to test for PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water is seen at Trident Laboratories in Holland, Mich.

CORY MORSE, THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

Detection of a toxic chemical in a northeastern Wisconsin wastewater treatment plant’s sludge has prompted a halt to application of the material on nearby farms and raised broader concerns about how public sewer systems across the state may be spreading the chemical across the landscape.

The contaminated sludge in Marinette also highlights unease and confusion in local communities over the absence of enforceable federal or Wisconsin environmental standards for the chemicals — often referred to by the acronym PFAS — despite at least two decades of research linking them to serious health problems.

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Long-term exposure to chemicals in sewage sludge fertilizer alters liver lipid content in females and cancer marker expression in males

Highlights

• Chronic exposure to environmental chemicals affects liver physiology.
• Proteomic measurements showed widespread dysregulation in the exposed livers.
• Exposure dysregulated important plasma proteins such as albumin and transferrin
• Reduction in total lipids in the exposed female livers
• Increase in cancer markers in the exposed male livers

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