Microplastic pollution in North Yellow Sea, China: Observations on occurrence, distribution and identification

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Sep 15;636:20-29. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.182. Epub 2018 Apr 25.

Abstract

Microplastics are emerging contaminants and have attracted widespread environmental concerns about their negative effects on the marine ecosystems. In this study, we investigated the abundances, distributions and characteristics of microplastics in surface seawater and sediments from the North Yellow Sea. The results showed that the abundance of microplastics was 545 ± 282 items/m3 in surface seawater and 37.1 ± 42.7 items/kg dry weight in sediments, representing a medium microplastic pollution level compared with other sea areas. Small microplastics (<1 mm) made up >70% of the total microplastic numbers. Films and fibers were the dominant shapes of microplastics in both the surface seawater and sediments. Transparent microplastics were generally more common than microplastics of other colors. Based on the identification by a Fourier transform infrared microscope, polyethylene (PE) was the dominant composition of microplastics in surface seawater, while polypropylene (PP) was the most common polymer type in sediments. These results will improve our understanding of the environmental risks posed by microplastics to marine ecosystems.

Keywords: Fishery; Micro-FTIR; Microplastics; Sediment; Surface seawater.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • North Sea
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*

Substances

  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical