Mobilization and bioaccessibility of cadmium in coastal sediment contaminated by microplastics
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Cadmium has had a number of historical applications in plastics but is now highly regulated. In this study, plastics containing pigmented or recycled Cd at concentrations up to 16,300 μg g-1 were processed into microplastic-sized fragments and added to clean estuarine sediment. Plastic-sediment mixtures (mass ratio = 1:100) were subsequently exposed to fluids simulating the digestive conditions encountered in marine deposit-feeding invertebrates prepared from a protein and a bile acid surfactant in seawater and the mobilization of Cd measured as a function of time. Kinetic profiles over a six-hour period were complex, with some fitted using a diffusion model and others exhibiting evidence of Cd interactions between the plastic and sediment surface. The maximum concentration of Cd released from plastic-sediment mixtures was about 0.8 μg g-1 and orders of magnitude greater than Cd mobilization from sediment alone. It is predicted that large communities of deposit-feeders could mobilize significant quantities of Cd from historical microplastics.
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