Microplastic abundance, distribution and composition in the mid-west Pacific Ocean

Date of publication 29 June 2020

Authors Wang, Sumin; Chen, Hongzhe; Zhou, Xiwu; Tian, Yongqing; Lin, Cai; Wang, Weili; Zhou, Kaiwen; Zhang, Yuanbiao; Lin, Hui.

Sources Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) : 264, 114125.

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114125


Microplastic pollution is widespread across most ocean basins around the world. Microplastics (MPs) are small plastic particles that have a significant impact on the marine environment. Various research on plastic pollution have been conducted in several regions. However, currently, there is limited data on the distribution and concentration of MPs in the mid-west Pacific Ocean. Therefore, this study we investigated the abundance, distribution, characteristics, and compositions of MPs in this region. Sea surface water samples collected from 18 stations showed a microplastic concentration range of 6028-95,335 pieces/km2 and a mean concentration of 34,039 ± 25,101 pieces/km2. Highest microplastic concentrations were observed in the seamount region of western Pacific. We observed a significant positive correlation between microplastic abundance and latitude across the study region. It was observed that microplastic concentrations decreased with increasing offshore distance at sites located on a 154° W transect. Fibres/filaments were the dominant microparticles observed in this study (57.4%), followed by fragments (18.3%). The dominant particle size range was 1-2.5 mm (35.1%), followed by 0.5-1 mm (28.5%), and the dominant particle colour was white (33.8%), followed by transparent (31.0%) and green (24.6%). The most common polymer identified by μ-Raman was polypropylene (39.1%), followed by polymethyl methacrylate (16.2%), polyethylene (14.1%) and polyethylene terephthalate (14.2%). The possible sources and pathways of microplastics in the study area were proposed based on the morphological and compositional characteristics of particles, their spatial distribution patterns, and shipboard current profiling (ADCP). Our study contributes to the further understanding of MPs in remote ocean areas.

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