Releasing of hexabromocyclododecanes from expanded polystyrenes in seawater -field and laboratory experiments

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a major component of marine debris globally. Recently, hazardous hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDDs) were detected in EPS buoys used for aquaculture farming. Subsequently, enrichment of HBCDDs was found in nearby marine sediments and mussels growing on EPS buoys. It was suspected that EPS buoys and their debris might be sources of HBCDDs. To confirm this, the release of HBCDDs from EPS spherules detached from a buoy to seawater was investigated under field (open sea surface and closed outdoor chambers with sun exposure and in the dark) and laboratory (particle-size) conditions. In all exposure groups, initial rapid leaching of HBCDDs was followed by slow desorption over time. Abundant release of HBCDDs was observed from EPS spherules exposed to the open sea surface (natural) and on exposure to sunlight irradiation or in the dark in controlled saline water. Water leaching and UV-light/temperature along with possibly biodegradation were responsible for about 37% and 12% of HBCDDs flux, respectively. Crumbled EPS particles (≤ 1 mm) in samples deployed on the sea surface for 6 months showed a high degree of weathering. This implies that surface erosion and further fragmentation of EPS via environmental weathering could enhance the leaching of HBCDDs from the surface of EPS. Overall, in the marine environment, HBCDDs could be released to a great extent from EPS products and their debris due to the cumulative effects of the movement of large volumes of water (dilution), biodegradation, UV-light/temperature, wave action (shaking), salinity and further fragmentation of EPS spherules.

Manviri Rani, Won Joon Shim, Mi Jang and al., Chemosphere, Available online 11 July 2017, In Press, Accepted Manuscript

The article

Fouling assemblage of benthic plastic debris collected from Mersin Bay, NE Levantine coast of Turkey

The Mediterranean is an ecosystem that faces more and more microplastic pollution every day. This causes the whole of the Mediterranean to face the negative effects of plastic pollution. This study examines the state of plastic debris and fouling organisms found on it in one of the areas most affected by plastic pollution, Mersin Bay. As a result, a total of 3.88 kg plastic (mean = 0,97 kg; n = 120; 2670 item/km2; 86,3 kg/km2) was collected and based on the ATR-FTIR analysis, it was determined that this total contained 9 types of plastics. 17 different fouling species belonging to 6 phylum (Annelida, Arthropoda, Bryozoa, Chordata, Cnidaria, Mollusca) 7 class and 11 order were discovered on plastics. Spirobranchus triqueter, Hydroides sp. and Neopycnodonte cochlear were the most abundant species. In the end, the example of Mersin Bay shows that plastic debris as a substrate can contain a very high diversity of life just like natural substrates.

Sedat Gündoğdu, Cem Çevik, Serkan Karaca, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 14 July 2017, In Press

The article

Strandings of NE Atlantic gorgonians

Northeast coral gardens provide vital breeding and feeding habitats for fishes of conservation and commercial importance. Such habitats are increasingly at risk of destruction as a result of over fishing, ocean warming, acidification and marine litter.

A key cause for concern regarding the vulnerability of coral gardens to damage from any source is their slow growth rate, and thereby their ability to recover from damage. Hence protected areas are being put in place, which exclude the use of towed demersal fishing gear.

Citizen scientists observed that gorgonian coral (Pink Sea Fans) skeletons were stranding on beaches entangled in marine debris (sea fangles) across southwest England. Further, SCUBA divers reported that gorgonian corals were being caught up and damaged in lost fishing gear and other marine litter.

To determine the cause of the damage to coral gardens, sea fangles were collected and analysed.

The sea fangles were made up of a diverse range of litter from fishing and domestic sources, however, the majority comprised of fishing gear (P < 0.05).

Marine Protected Areas can protect coral gardens from direct fishing pressure, but risks still remain from ghost fishing pressure, demonstrating the need for sources of litter into the environment to be reduced and existing litter removed.

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) outlines targets for marine litter by 2020. This study highlights the importance of adhering to the MSFD and/or creating more ambitious regulation if the UK re-write existing legislation following BREXIT.

E.V. Sheehan, A. Rees, D. Bridger, T. Williams, J.M. Hall-Spencer, Biological Conservation, Volume 209, May 2017, Pages 482–487

The article

Transboundary movement of marine litter in an estuarine gradient: Evaluating sources and sinks using hydrodynamic modelling and ground truthing estimates

Marine debris’ transboundary nature and new strategies to identify sources and sinks in coastal areas were investigated along the Paranaguá estuarine gradient (southern Brazil), through integration of hydrodynamic modelling, ground truthing estimates and regressive vector analysis. The simulated release of virtual particles in different parts of the inner estuary suggests a residence time shorter than 5 days before being exported through the estuary mouth (intermediate compartment) to the open ocean. Stranded litter supported this pathway, with beaches in the internal compartment presenting proportionally more items from domestic sources, while fragmented items with unknown sources were proportionally more abundant in the oceanic beaches. Regressive vector analysis reinforced the inner estuarine origin of the stranded litter in both estuarine and oceanic beaches. These results support the applicability of simple hydrodynamic models to address marine debris’ transboundary issues in the land-sea transition zone, thus supporting an ecosystem transboundary (and not territorial) management approach.

Allan Paul Krelling, Mihael Machado Souza, Allan Thomas Williams, Alexander Turra, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 119, Issue 1, 15 June 2017, Pages 48–63

The article

Inter-annual variation in the density of anthropogenic debris in the Tasman Sea

An increasing number of studies highlight the risk of plastic pollution in the marine environment. However, systematic longitudinal data on the distribution and abundance of plastic debris remain sparse. Here we present the results of a two-year study of plastic pollution within the Tasman Sea, contrasted with a further year of data from the same region, in order to document how the density of debris varies across years in this area. Surface net tows were collected between Hobart, Tasmania and Sydney, Australia during the spring of 2013 and 2014 and compared with a subset of data from autumn 2012 from the same region. Substantial inter-annual variation in mean plastic abundance was observed over the three year period, ranging from to 248.04–3711.64 pieces km− 2, confirming the need for multiple years of sampling to fully estimate the extent of, and trends in, plastic pollution.

Osha-Ann Rudduck, Jennifer L. Lavers, Andrew M. Fischer, Silke Stuckenbrock, Paul B. Sharp, Richard B. Banati, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 8 July 2017, In Press

The article

Quantifying Microplastics on National Park Beaches

This report details the results from a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program and led by the National Park Service (link is external) and Clemson University (link is external), in which beach sediments were collected and analyzed to assess the abundance and distribution of microplastics and microfibers on U.S. National Park beaches. Thirty-seven National Park beaches, representing 35 National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, and Recreation areas were sampled for microplastics and microfibers. Scientists found microplastics or microfibers in sand samples collected from all 37 beaches. Microfibers were the predominant type of debris found (97% by count). Individual beaches in the Great Lakes and Pacific Islands had the highest concentrations of microplastics and microfibers. Microplastics and microfibers were even found in remote areas of Alaska. (NOAA, June 2017)

The report