Polystyrene (PS) plastic marine pollution is an environmental concern. However, a reliable and objective assessment of the scope of this problem, which can lead to persistent organic contaminants, has yet to be performed. Here, we show that anthropogenic styrene oligomers (SOs), a possible indicator of PS pollution in the ocean, are found globally at concentrations that are higher than those expected based on the stability of PS. SOs appear to persist to varying degrees in the seawater and sand samples collected from beaches around the world. The most persistent forms are styrene monomer, styrene dimer, and styrene trimer. Sand samples from beaches, which are commonly recreation sites, are particularly polluted with these high SOs concentrations. This finding is of interest from both scientific and public perspectives because SOs may pose potential long-term risks to the environment in combination with other endocrine disrupting chemicals. From SOs monitoring results, this study proposes a flow diagram for SOs leaching from PS cycle. Using this flow diagram, we conclude that SOs are global contaminants in sandy beaches around the world due to their broad spatial distribution.
Bum Gun Kwon, Koshiro Koizumi, Seon-Yong Chung, Yoichi Kodera, Jong-Oh Kim, Katsuhiko Saido, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 300, Pages 359–367, 30 December 2015