Persistent organic pollutants carried by synthetic polymers in the ocean environment

Mar Pollut Bull. 2007 Aug;54(8):1230-7. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2007.03.022. Epub 2007 May 29.


Thermoplastic resin pellets are melted and formed into an enormous number of inexpensive consumer goods, many of which are discarded after a relatively short period of use, dropped haphazardly onto watersheds and then make their way to the ocean where some get ingested by marine life. In 2003 and 2004 pre-production thermoplastic resin pellets and post-consumer plastic fragments were collected and analyzed for contamination for persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Samples were taken from the North Pacific Gyre, and selected sites in California, Hawaii, and from Guadalupe Island, Mexico. The total concentration of PCBs ranged from 27 to 980 ng/g; DDTs from 22 to 7100 ng/g and PAHs from 39 to 1200 ng/g, and aliphatic hydrocarbons from 1.1 to 8600 microg/g. Analytical methods were developed to extract, concentrate and identify POPs that may have accumulated on plastic fragments and plastic pellets. The results of this study confirm that plastic debris is a trap for POPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bathing Beaches
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Industry
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Plastics / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants