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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Food Animal Metabolism Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #408217

Research Project: Detection and Fate of Environmental Chemical and Biological Residues and their Impact on the Food Supply

Location: Food Animal Metabolism Research

Title: Fate and disposition of [14C]-polystyrene microplastic after oral administration to laying hens

item Shelver, Weilin
item McGarvey, Amy
item Billey, Lloyd
item BANERJEE, AMRITA - Fount Bio

Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/9/2023
Publication Date: 11/15/2023
Citation: Shelver, W.L., Mcgarvey, A.M., Billey, L.O., Banerjee, A. 2023. Fate and disposition of [14C]-polystyrene microplastic after oral administration to laying hens. Science of the Total Environment. 909:168512.

Interpretive Summary: Microplastics (MP) have been identified as contaminants in the environment and in human food and water. Very few data are available describing how well MP are absorbed and distributed into edible products of domestic food animals. In this study, a radiotracer was incorporated into polystyrene MP which were then orally administered to laying hens. The fate of the radioactive MP was then monitored for a one-week period in excreta and eggs and then radioactivity was measured in chicken tissues. Very low, but measurable, levels of radiotracer were present in eggs and tissues of laying hens. The great majority of the dosed MP was present in excreta collected during the 24 hours after dosing. The study indicated that polystyrene MP was poorly absorbed in laying hens with small quantities transferred to eggs. Most polystyrene MP was eliminated into the waste stream.

Technical Abstract: Micro/nanoplastics (MP) are emerging environmental contaminants of great concern because of their ubiquitous distribution in air, soil, water, and food. Reports have described MP in excreta of food animals, but their absorption, distribution, and elimination in terrestrial animals used for human consumption is essentially unexplored. To determine the absorption and distribution of [14C]-polystyrene (PS) MP, laying hens (n = 15) were bolus dosed with 10 µCi/hen (11.1 ± 0.8 mg/kg) and the extent of radioactivity in blood and tissues was determined in birds harvested on withdrawal days (WD) 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 (3 hens per WD). Radiocarbon was also determined in egg fractions and excreta collected throughout the study. Blood, eggs, and tissues contained a total of < 1 % of the administered dose, demonstrating that polystyrene microparticles were poorly absorbed. Recovery of radioactivity in excreta within the first withdrawal day was nearly quantitative (96.8 ± 14.5%, n = 15), suggesting exposure of poultry to dietary PS-MP would not likely represent subsequent food safety risks and that most PS-MP present in poultry diets would return to the environment.