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Ubiquity of microplastics in coastal seafloor sediments

Ling, SD ORCID: 0000-0002-5544-8174, Sinclair, M, Levi, CJ, Reeves, SE and Edgar, GJ ORCID: 0000-0003-0833-9001 2017 , 'Ubiquity of microplastics in coastal seafloor sediments' , Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 121, no. 1-2 , pp. 104-110 , doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.038.

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Abstract

Microplastic pollutants occur in marine environments globally, however estimates of seafloor concentrations are rare. Here we apply a novel method to quantify size-graded (0.038–4.0 mm diam.) concentrations of plastics in marine sediments from 42 coastal and estuarine sites spanning pollution gradients across south-eastern Australia. Acid digestion/density separation revealed 9552 individual microplastics from 2.84 l of sediment across all samples; equating to a regional average of 3.4 microplastics·ml- 1 sediment. Microplastics occurred as filaments (84% of total) and particle forms (16% of total). Positive correlations between microplastic filaments and wave exposure, and microplastic particles with finer sediments, indicate hydrological/sediment-matrix properties are important for deposition/retention. Contrary to expectations, positive relationships were not evident between microplastics and other pollutants (heavy metals/sewage), nor were negative relationships with neighbouring reef biota detected. Rather, microplastics were ubiquitous across sampling sites. Positive associations with some faunal-elements (i.e. invertebrate species richness) nevertheless suggest high potential for microplastic ingestion.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Ling, SD and Sinclair, M and Levi, CJ and Reeves, SE and Edgar, GJ
Keywords: marine plastic, pollution, heavy metals, sewage, estuary, reef
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Publisher: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
ISSN: 0025-326X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.038
Copyright Information:

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

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