Micro/nanoplastics effects on organisms: A review focusing on ‘dose’
Abstract Microplastics have become predominant contaminants, attracting much political and scientific attention. Despite the massively-increasing research on microplastics effects on organisms, the debate of whether environmental concentrations pose hazard and risk continues. This study critically reviews published literatures of microplastics effects on organisms within the context of “dose”. It provides substantial evidence of the common occurrence of threshold and hormesis dose responses of numerous aquatic and terrestrial organisms to microplastics. This finding along with accumulated evidence indicating the capacity of organisms for recovery suggest that the linear-no-threshold model is biologically irrelevant and should not serve as a default model for assessing the microplastics risks. The published literature does not provide sufficient evidence supporting the general conclusion that environmental doses of microplastics cause adverse effects on individual organisms. Instead, doses that are smaller than the dose of toxicological threshold and more likely to occur in the environment may even induce positive effects, although the ecological implications of these responses remain unknown. This study also shows that low doses of microplastics can reduce whereas high doses can increase the negative effects of other pollutants. The mechanisms explaining these findings are discussed, providing a novel perspective for evaluating the risks of microplastics in the environment.