No measurable “cleaning” of polychlorinated biphenyls from Rainbow Trout in a 9 week depuration study with dietary exposure to 40% polyethylene microspheres†
Persistent hydrophobic chemicals sorbed to plastic can be transferred to fish and other aquatic organisms upon ingestion. However, ingestion of plastic could also lead to enhanced elimination of these chemicals if the plastic is less contaminated than the fish. Here, we attempted to measure the influence of ingestion of uncontaminated polyethylene microspheres on the depuration rates of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in an in vivo fish feeding experiment. Rainbow trout were given feed contaminated with PCBs for two consecutive days, then clean feed for three days to allow for egestion of the contaminated food. A control group of fish were then fed ordinary food pellets and a treatment group were fed pellets that additionally contained 40% by weight polyethylene microspheres. Condition factors and growth rates in both groups were similar, indicating no negative effect of the plastic microspheres on the nutritional status of the fish. Fish were sampled after zero, three, six and nine weeks, homogenized, solvent-extracted and analyzed by GC/MS. PCB concentrations declined in both groups at a rate consistent with growth dilution. There was no significant difference in the elimination rate constants between the control and treatment group, indicating that ingestion of uncontaminated plastic did not cause a measurable enhancement of depuration of PCBs by the fish in this study.
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