Intertidal Concentrations of Microplastics and Their Influence on Ammonium Cycling as Related to the Shellfish Industry

Microplastics are ubiquitous within the marine environment. The last 10 years have seen research directed at understanding the fate and effect of microplastics within the marine environment; however, no studies have yet addressed how concentrations of these particles could affect sedimentary processes such as nutrient cycling. Herein we first determine the concentration and spatial distribution of microplastics within Baynes Sound, a key shellfish-growing area within coastal British Columbia (BC). We also determined sediment grain size and % organic matter (OM) such that we could relate spatial patterns in sediment microplastic concentrations to sedimentary processes that determine zones of accretion and erosion. Using field-determined concentrations of microplastics, we applied laboratory microcosms studies, which manipulated sediment concentrations of microplastics, OM, and bivalves to determine the influence of sediment microplastics on ammonium cycling within intertidal sediments. (…)

Melanie Cluzard, Tamara N. Kazmiruk, Vasily D. Kazmiruk, L. I. Bendell, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 10 pages, April 2015

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