Distribution and quantity of microplastic on sandy beaches along the northern coast of Taiwan

Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in the world’s oceans, and studies have shown macroplastic and microplastic pollution of beaches in several East Asian countries. However, to our knowledge, no study of microplastic pollution has been conducted in Taiwan yet. Therefore, we collected sand samples from four beaches along the northern coast of Taiwan in 2015 and extracted microplastic particles using a saturated NaCl solution. Microplastic particles were identified using synchrotron-based FTIR spectroscopy. We recovered 4 to 532 particles from eight 0.0125 m3 samples, with a total of 1097 particles weighing 0.771 g. A negative trend between the size of the particles and their numbers was documented. We thus established that microplastic pollution was ubiquitous along Taiwan’s northern coast. Future research should more comprehensively sample beaches around the entirety of Taiwan’s coast, and special emphasis should be placed on identifying different sources and movements of microplastic.

Alexander Kunz, Bruno A. Walther, Ludvig Löwemark, Yao-Chang Lee, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 111, Issues 1–2, 15 October 2016, Pages 126–135

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