Occurrence of microplastics (plastic debris <5 mm) along the coast is a growing concern worldwide, due to increased input of discarded wastes from various sources. In order to evaluate the extent of microplastic pollution on the sandy beaches (25 locations) along Tamil Nadu coast (1076 km), India, microplastic debris were quantified and categorized into four different size classes. The beaches were classified according to potential sources of pollution i.e. riverine, tourism and fisheries. Beach samples collected from the high tide line contained significantly higher abundance of microplastic than at the low tide line. Beaches adjacent to rivers exhibited relatively higher microplastic abundance compared to those influenced by tourism and fishing activities. Out of the total detected debris, plastic fragments were the maximum (47–50%), followed by line/fibres (24–27%) and foam (10–19%) materials. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis revealed that polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene were the main types of microplastics present in these beaches. Gut content analysis of commercially important fishes, collected from the coastal waters, revealed microplastics ingestion in 10.1% of fishes. The results indicate that microplastics accumulation in the coastal environment, especially close to the river mouths, may be a serious concern, due to its ability to enter into the marine food web and highlights the necessity of microplastics screening from estuarine, coastal waters and other potential sources.
R. Karthik, R.. Robin, R. Purvaja and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 645, 15 December 2018, Pages 1388-1399