Marine pollutants are becoming a growing concern due to their ecological consequences. This study investigates the potential risk posed by microplastics and toxic elements in coastal sediments of Khark Island, the main oil export hub of Iran. Principal component biplots exhibited a significant positive correlation between microplastic quantities (ranging in shape and color) and concentration of heavy metals with industrial activity. Source identification of the heavy metals indicated both natural and anthropogenic origin. Quality and risk assessment of the sediments revealed low to moderate pollution of Zn, Mo, Pb, Cu, Cd and As in some stations. Results of metal fractionation in sediments demonstrated that Cd, Mn, Zn, As and Pb are capable of posing a serious ecological risk due to potential bioavailability. Microplastics, mostly fragments and fibers, were detected in all sediment samples (ranging from 59 to 217 items/200 g dry sediment). A relatively good significant linear relationship exists between microplastic quantities and potentially toxic element/polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in coastal sediments. The results of this study confirmed the key role of microplastics as a “potential contaminant vector” for other types of pollutants.
Razegheh Akhbarizadeh, Farid Moore, Behnam Keshavarzi, Alireza Moeinpour, Environmental Pollution, Volume 220, Part A, January 2017, Pages 720–731