Microplastic pollution in sublittoral coastal sediments of a North Atlantic island: The case of La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain)

Chemosphere. 2022 Feb;288(Pt 2):132530. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.132530. Epub 2021 Oct 12.


In this work, the microplastic content of sediments collected in July 2020 between 5 and 7 m depth was studied in four locations of La Palma island (Canary Islands, Spain). At each sampling location, three samples were taken parallel to the shoreline. The microplastic content in each sampling corer was studied every 2.5 cm depth after digestion with a H2O2 solution followed by flotation in a saturated NaCl solution. Visualization of the final filtrates under a stereomicroscope revealed that all the sediment samples evaluated contained mostly microfibers (98.3%) which were mainly white/colorless (86.0%) and blue (9.8%), with an average length of 2423 ± 2235 (SD) mm and an average concentration of 2682 ± 827 items per kg of dry weight, being the total number of items found 1,019. Fourier Transform Infrared microscopy analysis of 13.9% (n = 139) of the microfibers also showed that they were mainly cellulosic (81.3%). No significant differences were found between the depths of the sediment. However, significant differences were found between the number of fibers from the sampling sites at the east and west of the island. Such variability could be driven by the winds and ocean mesoscale dynamics in the area. This study confirms the wide distribution of microfibers in sediments from an oceanic island like La Palma, providing their first report in marine sediments of the Canary Islands.

Keywords: Canary Islands; Fibers; Fourier Transform Infrared microscopy; Microplastics; Ocean dynamic; Sediments.

MeSH terms

  • Atlantic Islands
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Microplastics*
  • Plastics*
  • Spain


  • Microplastics
  • Plastics
  • Hydrogen Peroxide