Distribution and Size Relationships of Plastic Marine Debris on Beaches in South Korea

The characteristics of the distribution of plastic marine debris were determined on 12 beaches in South Korea in 2013 and 2014. The abundances of large micro- (1-5 mm), meso- (5-25 mm), and macroplastics (> 25 mm) were 880.4, 37.7, and 1.0 particles/m(2), respectively. Styrofoam was the most abundant debris type for large microplastics and mesoplastics (99.1 and 90.9 %, respectively). Fiber (including fabric) was the most abundant of the macroplastics (54.7 %). There were no statistical differences in the mean numbers and weights of plastic debris among three beach groups from west, south, and east coasts. No significant differences were detected between the abundances of beached plastics in high strandline and backshore for all three size groups. Spearman’s rank correlation was used to determine the relationships between the three debris size classes. The abundance of large microplastics was strongly correlated with that of mesoplastics for most material types, which suggests that the contamination level of large microplastics can be estimated from that of mesoplastics. As surveying of smaller particles is more labor intensive, the surveying of mesoplastics with a 5-mm sieve is an efficient and useful way to determine “hot-spots” on beaches contaminated with large microplastics.

Lee, Jongmyoung, Lee, Jong Su, Jang, Yong Chang and al., ARCHIVES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND TOXICOLOGY, Volume:69, Issue:3, Pages:288-298, October 2015

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