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

Lots, Froukje A.E.; Behrens, Paul; Vijver, Martina G.; Horton, Alice A.; Bosker, Thijs. 2017 A large-scale investigation of microplastic contamination: abundance and characteristics of microplastics in European beach sediment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 123 (1-2). 219-226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.08.057

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Abstract/Summary

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, < 1 mm 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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.08.057
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 0025-326X
Additional Keywords: citizen science, microplastics, beach sediment, Europe, plastic pollution
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Date made live: 26 Oct 2017 15:02 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518097

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