Microplastic fibers in the intertidal ecosystem surrounding Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia

Humans continue to increase the use and disposal of plastics by producing over 240 million tonnes per year, polluting the oceans with persistent waste. The majority of plastic in the oceans are microplastics (<5 mm). In this study, the contamination of microplastic fibers was quantified in sediments from the intertidal zones of one exposed beach and two protected beaches along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. From the two protected beaches, polychaete worm fecal casts and live blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) were analyzed for microplastic content. Store-bought mussels from an aquaculture site were also analyzed. The average microplastic abundance observed from 10 g sediment subsamples was between 20 and 80 fibers, with higher concentrations at the high tide line from the exposed beach and at the low tide line from the protected beaches. Microplastic concentrations from polychaete fecal casts resembled concentrations quantified from low tide sediments. In two separate mussel analyses, significantly more microplastics were enumerated in farmed mussels compared to wild ones.

Alysse Mathalon, Paul Hill, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 81, Issue 1, Pages 69–79, 15 April 2014

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