Plastic products leach chemicals that induce in vitro toxicity under realistic use conditions

  • Plastic products contain complex mixtures of extractable chemicals that can be toxic. However, humans and wildlife will only be exposed to plastic chemicals that are released under realistic conditions. Thus, we investigated the toxicological and chemical profiles leaching into water from 24 everyday plastic products covering eight polymer types. We performed migration experiments over 10 days at 40 °C and analyzed the migrates using four in vitro bioassays and nontarget high-resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF-MSE). All migrates induced baseline toxicity, 22 an oxidative stress response, 13 antiandrogenicity, and one estrogenicity. Overall, between 17 and 8681 relevant chemical features were present in the migrates. In other words, between 1 and 88% of the plastic chemicals associated with one product were migrating. Further, we tentatively identified ∼8% of all detected features implying that most plastic chemicals remain unknown. While low-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyurethane induced most toxicological endpoints, a generalization for other materials is not possible. Our results demonstrate that plastic products readily leach many more chemicals than previously known, some of which are toxic in vitro. This highlights that humans are exposed to many more plastic chemicals than currently considered in public health science and policies.

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Author:Lisa ZimmermannORCiDGND, Zdenka Bartosova, Katharina Braun, Jörg OehlmannORCiDGND, Carolin VölkerORCiDGND, Martin WagnerORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Environmental science & technology
Publisher:American Chemical Society
Place of publication:Columbus, Ohio
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/08/17
Date of first Publication:2021/08/17
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/02/16
Tag:additives; bioassays; exposome; exposure; food contact materials; migration; nontarget; polymers
Page Number:10
First Page:11814
Last Page:11823
This study was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (01UU1603A-C). M.W. acknowledges funding by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 860720.
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 54 Chemie / 540 Chemie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0