3 years ago

A large-scale investigation of microplastic contamination: Abundance and characteristics of microplastics in European beach sediment

A large-scale investigation of microplastic contamination: Abundance and characteristics of microplastics in European beach sediment
Here we present the large-scale distribution of microplastic contamination in beach sediment across Europe. Sediment samples were collected from 23 locations across 13 countries by citizen scientists, and analysed using a standard operating procedure. We found significant variability in the concentrations of microplastics, ranging from 72±24 to 1512±187 microplastics per kg of dry sediment, with high variability within sampling locations. Three hotspots of microplastic accumulation (>700 microplastics per kg of dry sediment) were found. There was limited variability in the physico-chemical characteristics of the plastics across sampling locations. The majority of the microplastics were fibrous, <1mm in size, and blue/black in colour. In addition, using Raman spectrometry we identified particles as polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Our research is the first large spatial-scale analysis of microplastics on European beaches giving insights into the nature and extent of the microplastic challenge.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0025326X17307312

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