An ecotoxicological perspective of microplastics released by face masks

Urpi Cabrejos-Cardeña, Gabriel Enrique De-la-Torre, Sina Dobaradaran, Selvasembian Rangabhashiyam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The accelerated use, massive disposal, and contamination with face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic have raised new questions regarding their negative impact on the environment emerged. One major concern is whether microplastics (MPs) derived from face masks (FMPs) represent an important ecotoxicological hazard. Here, we discussed the shortcomings, loose ends, and considerations of the current literature investigating the ecotoxicological effects of FMPs on aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Overall, there are multiple uncertainties regarding the true impact of FMPs at a certain concentration due to the presence of uncontrolled or unknown degradation products, such as MPs of various size ranges even nano-sized (<1 µm) and chemical additives. It is apparent that FMPs may induce endocrine-disrupting and behavioral effects in different organisms. However, the results of FMPs should be carefully interpreted, as these cannot be extrapolated at a global scale, by taking into account a number of criteria such as face mask manufacturers, providers, consumer preferences, and type of face masks. Considering these uncertainties, it is still not possible to estimate the contribution of face masks to the already existing MP issue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130273
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Volume443
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Nanoplastics
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Polypropylene

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