Spatial variation of floatable plastic debris and microplastics in the Pearl River Estuary, South China

Date of publication 17 August 2020

Authors Lam, Theresa Wing Ling; Fok, Lincoln; Lin, Lang; Xie, Qun; Li, Heng-Xiang; Xu, Xiang-Rong; Yeung, Ling Chun.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 158



The estuaries of populated catchments have been documented as hotspots of plastic pollution. In this study, microplastics (0.355-5.0 mm) and large plastic debris (> 5.0 mm) of surface water collected from the Inner Lingding Bay of the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) were quantified and categorized according to their size, shape, colour and composition. Both microplastics and large plastic debris were detected at all sampling sites with mean abundances of 2.376 +/- 0.700 n/m(3) and 0.110 +/- 0.039 n/m(3), respectively. Microplastics constitute 95.4% of the total abundance by number. The average microplastic concentration in the inner PRE was almost 3.5 times higher than that in the central PRE, indicating a positive correlation between plastic concentration and proximity to the river mouth. This result reveals the important role of rivers in transporting plastic debris from land to the oceans.

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