Identification and quantification of potential microplastics in shellfish harvested in Sardinia (Italy) by using transillumination stereomicroscopy

Submitted: 14 July 2022
Accepted: 8 November 2022
Published: 5 December 2022
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Plastics are non-biodegradable polymers made up of different groups of petrochemical materials. Several biotic and abiotic factors can change the density of plastic fragmenting it and originating microplastics (MPs). MPs have been defined as small pieces of plastic less than 5 mm in size. Due to their small size, they are an emerging concern in the marine environment since they can be ingested by aquatic organisms, especially filter-feeding organisms, such as bivalve mollusks. Impacts of MPs exposure have been shown at various levels of biological organization, from cellular to tissue to individual and population levels. For example, oxidative stress and inflammation have been observed in copepods and mussels, obstruction and physical damage of the digestive tract were found in fish and swimming behavior alterations, disruption of foraging and feeding behavior and overall reduced fitness and survival were observed in fish and oysters. In addition, MPs can act as a vector for the transfer of chemicals to marine biota. The aim of the present study was the identification and quantification of potential MPs in shellfish harvested in Sardinia (Italy) by using transillumination stereomicroscopy. Bivalves were collected from 4 of the main production areas located along the Sardinian coast and selected according to the principles of the risk assessment. The results of the present study demonstrated the presence of potential MPs in 70% of the analyzed samples: the presence of MPs in bivalve mollusks may pose a threat to food safety, and there is an urgent need to evaluate the potential risks of MPs to human health.



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Supporting Agencies

Giuseppa Lorenzoni, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Conception or design of the work

Rita Melillo, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Critical revision of the article

Alessandro Graziano Mudadu, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Conception or design of the work

Gabriella Piras, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

data collection

Simona Cau, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Data collection

Katia Usai, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

data collection

Luisa Corda, University of Sassari, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Sassari

data collection

Sara Salza, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Data analysis and interpretation

Tiziana Tedde, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Data analysis and interpretation

Bruna Vodret, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Data analysis and interpretation

Sebastiano Virgilio, Veterinary Public Health Institute of Sardinia, Sassari

Critical revision of the article

Domenico Meloni, University of Sassari, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Sassari

Final approval of the version to be published

How to Cite

Lorenzoni G, Melillo R, Mudadu AG, Piras G, Cau S, Usai K, Corda L, Salza S, Tedde T, Vodret B, Virgilio S, Meloni D. Identification and quantification of potential microplastics in shellfish harvested in Sardinia (Italy) by using transillumination stereomicroscopy. Ital J Food Safety [Internet]. 2022 Dec. 5 [cited 2024 Jul. 25];11(4). Available from:

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