Microplastic pollution is increasingly becoming a great environmental concern worldwide. Microplastics have been found in many marine organisms as a result of increasing plastic pollution within marine environments. However, the relationship between micoplastics in organisms and their living environment is still relatively poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated microplastic pollution in the water and the mussels (Mytilus edulis, Perna viridis) at 25 sites along the coastal waters of China. We also, for the first time, conducted an exposure experiment in parallel on the same site using M. edulis in the laboratory. A strong positive linear relationship was found between microplastic levels in the water and in the mussels. Fibers were the dominant microplastics. The sizes of microplastics in the mussels were smaller than those in the water. During exposure experiments, the abundance of microbeads was significantly higher than that of fibers, even though the nominal abundance of fibers was eight times that of microbeads. In general, our results supported positive and quantitative correlations of microplastics in mussels and in their surrounding waters and that mussels were more likely to ingest smaller microplastics. Laboratory exposure experiment is a good way to understand the relative impacts of microplastics ingested by marine organisms. However, significant differences in the results between exposure experiments and field investigations indicated that further efforts are needed to simulate the diverse environmentally relevant properties of microplastics.
Xiaoyun Qu, Lei Su, Hengxiang Li, Mingzhong Liang, Huahong Shi, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 621, 15 April 2018, Pages 679–686