Microplastics in oysters Saccostrea cucullata along the Pearl River Estuary, China

As a transitional zone between riverine and marine environments, an estuary plays an important role for the sources, accumulation and transport of microplastics. Although estuarine environments are hotspots of microplastic pollution, the correlation between microplastic pollution and aquatic organisms is less known. Here we investigated microplastic pollution in wild oysters Saccostrea cucullata from 11 sampling sites along the Pearl River Estuary in South China. The microplastic abundances in oysters ranged from 1.4 to 7.0 items per individual or from 1.5 to 7.2 items per gram tissue wet weight, which were positively related to those in surrounding waters. The oysters near urban areas contained significantly more microplastics than those near rural areas. Fibers accounted for 69.4% of the total microplastics in oysters. Microplastic sizes varied from 20 to 5000 μm and 83.9% of which were less than 100 μm. Light color microplastics were significantly more common than dark color ones. Based on the results, oysters are recommended as a biomonitor for the microplastic pollution in estuaries.

Heng-Xiang Li, Li-Sha Ma, Lang Lin and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 236, May 2018, Pages 619–625

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Assessment of debris inputs from land into the river in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, China

Riverine debris in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area (TGRA) poses a threat to electricity generation, ship navigation, and water environment. Quantifying riverine debris inputs from land into the river is a foundation for modeling of the transport and accumulation of floating debris on the water surface in the TGRA. However, this has not been researched to date. In this study, debris inputs from land into the river in the TGRA were assessed according to the response relationship between debris inputs and surface runoff. The land-based debris inputs in the TGRA were estimated using simulated surface runoff which was simulated by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. Results showed that 15.32 × 106 kg of land-based debris was inputted into the main channel of the TGRA in 2015 which accounted for 9.74% of total debris inputs (the monitoring data of river-sourced and land-sourced debris inputs was 157.27 × 106 kg). Debris inputs varied seasonally and peaked in the summer season (July to September). Compared with monthly measured data, the average relative errors in 2015 were below 30%. In addition, areas with higher debris pollution inputs were mainly located in the upper section of the TGRA, between the Tang River Basin and the Long River Basin. The proposed method was tested and determined to be reliable; thus, it can be used to quickly estimate debris inputs from land into the river by surface runoff of the outlets in a river basin. Moreover, this method provides new insight into the estimation of land-based debris inputs into rivers.

Jing Wan, Yonggui Wang, Meiling Cheng, Bernard A. Engel, Wanshun Zhang, Hong Peng, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, , Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 5539–5549

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Sorption behaviors of phenanthrene on the microplastics identified in a mariculture farm in Xiangshan Bay, southeastern China

Recently, with the accumulation of evidence that microplastic can be ingested by a variety of marine organisms, microplastic sorption behaviors towards organic contaminants (OCs) have become the subject of more studies due to the concerns about the contaminant vector effect. In this study, the priority microplastics identified in a mariculture farm in Xiangshan Bay, China, including polyethylene (PE) and nylon fibers (i.e., derived from new fishing ropes and nets), were examined for their sorption behaviors. The results indicate that both plastic fibers show linear isotherms towards phenanthrene, a common target hydrophobic organic contaminant (HOC), revealing the characteristics of a partitioning mechanism. The sorption capacity of PE fiber was found to be 1–2 orders of magnitude higher (evaluated by Freundlich parameter log KF) than that of nylon fiber, suggesting the importance of plastic surface functional groups (i.e., with or without hydrophilic groups). By comparing carbon normalized log KF with literature data, the organic affinity of PE fiber was found to be 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than that of vectors, such as carbonaceous geosorbents (CG), but was 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than that of marine sediments. Small size and rough surface tended to enhance the sorption of plastic fibers of phenanthrene. In addition, phenol (log KOW: 1.46), a low-hydrophobicity compound, showed approximately 3 orders of magnitude lower sorption amounts onto both fibers compared to phenanthrene (log KOW: 4.46), indicating the selectivity of hydrophobicity. The results of this study demonstrate that the high abundance of plastic fibers distributed in mariculture farms could lead to a higher contaminant transfer effect than marine sediments, and their effects on cultured seafood (e.g., crab and fish) need further investigation.

Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 628–629, 1 July 2018, Pages 1617–1626
Zheng Wang, Minglong Chen, Liwen Zhang and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 628–629, 1 July 2018, Pages 1617–1626

China Focus: Chinese scientists to improve microplastics research

When Wang Wenfeng, a PhD candidate in central China’s Hubei Province, undertook his research into microplastics he did not expect British Prime Minister Theresa May to draw attention to his work. Studying at Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, capital of the province, Wang, 29, met the British Prime Minister on Wednesday, the first day of her three-day official visit to the country. She talked with Chinese scholars during her stay in Wuhan, and Wang was among them. “I introduced my studies and findings to her in English. The prime minister listened carefully and said microplastic pollution is a global concern,” Wang said. (…)

Wang and his team carried out research in freshwater by innovating and updating technologies over the past years. They successfully obtained information about microplastic pollution in lakes in Wuhan and the Three Gorges Reservoir area. (…) (xinhuanet.com, 02/02/2018)

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Plastic found in mussels from Arctic to China – enters human food

Tiny bits of plastic are contaminating mussels from the European Arctic to China in a sign of the global spread of ocean pollution that can end up on people’s dinner plates.

Mussels in apparently pristine Arctic waters had most plastic of any tested along the Norwegian coast, according to a study this month by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA).

Plastics may be getting swept north by ocean currents and winds from Europe and America, ending up swirling around the Arctic Ocean, NIVA researcher Amy Lusher told Reuters.

“Microplastics have been found in mussels everywhere scientists have looked,” she said.

Past surveys have found microplastics off nations including China, Chile, Canada, Britain and Belgium. Off Norway, the molluscs contained on average 1.8 bits of microplastic – defined as smaller than 5 mm long (0.2 inch) – with 4.3 in the Arctic. (…) (reuters.com, 20/12/2017)

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Occurrences of organophosphorus esters and phthalates in the microplastics from the coastal beaches in north China

Chemical pollution in the microplastics has been concerned worldwide as pollutants might potentially transfer from the environment to living organisms via plastics. Here, we investigate organophosphorus esters (OPEs) and phthalic acid esters (PAEs) in the beached microplastics collected from 28 coastal beaches of the Bohai and Yellow Sea in north China. The analyzed microplastics included polyethylene (PE) pellets and fragments, polypropylene (PP) flakes and fragments and polystyrene (PS) foams. The tris-(2-chloroethyl)-phosphate (TCEP), tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP) and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) were the three predominant compounds found overall. The maximum Σ4 OPEs concentration was 84,595.9 ng g− 1, almost three orders of magnitude higher than the maximum Σ9 PAEs concentration. The PP flakes and PS foams contained the highest concentrations of the additives in contrast to the PE pellets which contained the lowest. The high concentration level of carcinogenic chlorinated OPEs and DEHP with endocrine disrupting effects implied the suggested potential hazards to coastal organisms. Spatial differences and compositional variation of the additives among the different microplastics suggests different origins and residence times in the coastal environment. This indicates that the characteristics of chemical additives might be a useful approach when tracing sources of microplastics in the environment.

Haibo Zhang, Qian Zhou, Zhiyong Xie and al., Science of The Total Environment, Available online 28 October 2017, In Press

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Microplastics releasing from personal care and cosmetic products in China

Microplastics (MPs) have become a major global issue; their release from various products affects the aquatic environment, especially marine ecosystems. As a primary source of MPs, personal care and cosmetics products (PCCPs) containing MPs contribute to this environmental risk. We visited several supermarket chains in Beijing, China to identify PCCPs containing MPs. Overall, 7.1% of facial cleansers contained MPs, with an average weight of 25.04 ± 10.69 mg MP/g and average size of 313 ± 130 μm; whereas, 2.2% of shower gel products contained an average weight of 17.80 ± 7.50 mg MPs/g with an average size of 422 ± 185 μm. The majority of MPs were made of polyethylene, based on Raman and Fourier transform-infrared spectra analyses, while only a few were made of walnut shells and carbon particles. Finally, estimated 39 tons MPs were released into the environment based on PCCPs use in China based on available data.

Kun Lei, Fei Qiao, Qing Liu and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 11 September 2017, In Press

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