Occurrence and Distribution of Microplastics in the Sea Surface Microlayer in Jinhae Bay, South Korea

Microplastic contamination of the marine environment is a worldwide concern. The abundance of microplastics was evaluated in the sea surface microlayer in Jinhae Bay, on the southern coast of Korea. The microplastics in this study are divided into paint resin particles and plastics by polymer type. The mean abundance of paint resin particles (94 ± 68 particles/L) was comparable to that of plastics (88 ± 68 particles/L). Fragmented microplastics, including paint resin particles, accounted for 75 % of total particles, followed by spherules (14 %), fibers (5.8 %), expanded polystyrene (4.6 %), and sheets (1.6 %). Alkyd (35 %) and poly(acrylate/styrene) (16 %) derived from ship paint resin were dominant, and the other microplastic samples consisted of polypropylene, polyethylene, phenoxy resin, polystyrene, polyester, synthetic rubber, and other polymers. The abundance of plastics was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in Jinhae Bay, which is surrounded by a coastal city, than along the east coast of Geoje, which is relatively open sea. The floating microplastic abundance in surface water was the highest reported worldwide.


Young Kyoung Song, Sang Hee Hong, Mi Jang, Gi Myung Han, Won Joon Shim, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 279-287, October 2015

The article


Abundance and distribution characteristics of microplastics in surface seawaters of the Incheon/Kyeonggi coastal region

Microplastics in marine environments are of emerging concern due to their widespread distribution, their ingestion by various marine organisms, and their roles as a source and transfer vector of toxic chemicals. However, our understanding of their abundance and distribution characteristics in surface seawater (SSW) remains limited. We investigated microplastics in the surface microlayer (SML) and the SSW at 12 stations near-shore and offshore of the Korean west coast, Incheon/Kyeonggi region. Variation between stations, sampling media, and sampling methods were compared based on abundances, size distribution, and composition profiles of microsized synthetic polymer particles. The abundance of microplastics was greater in the SML (152,688 ± 92,384 particles/m3) than in SSW and showed a significant difference based on the sampling method for SSWs collected using a hand net (1602 ± 1274 particles/m3) and a zooplankton trawl net (0.19 ± 0.14 particles/m3). Ship paint particles (mostly alkyd resin polymer) accounted for the majority of microplastics detected in both SML and SSWs, and increased levels were observed around the voyage routes of large vessels. This indicates that polymers with marine-based origins become an important contributor to microplastics in coastal SSWs of this coastal region.

Doo-Hyeon Chae, In-Sung Kim, Seung-Kyu Kim, Young Kyoung Song, Won Joon Shim, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 69 (3):269-278, October 2015

The article


Marine neustonic microplastics around the southeastern coast of Korea

We investigated floating debris around the mouth of the Nakdong River in the Southeastern Sea of Korea using a Manta trawl (330-μm mesh) and hand-net (50 μm) before (May) and after (July) the rainy season in 2012. Microplastic (<2 mm) was present at all of the stations, whereas Styrofoam (2–5 mm) peaked only at a few stations far from the Nakdong River mouth in July. The dominant types were fibers (polyester), hard plastic (polyethylene), paint particles (alkyd), and Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene). The average abundances of fibers and hard plastic (<2 mm) in the trawl were significantly higher in July than in May (p < 0.005, p < 0.05, respectively), while two orders of magnitude more microplastics (<2 mm) were collected with the hand-net than with the trawl. Fibers and hard plastic by trawl were significantly compared temporally, and the hand-net proved the missed microplastics (50–330 μm) when trawl used.

Jung-Hoon Kang and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 96, Issues 1–2, Pages 304–312, July 2015